Buckle up. Free your mind. It’s a crazy trip of a film that leaves you wondering in places what the fuck is going on.
Savvas D. Michael is an obvious talent and enjoys all aspects of filmmaking, as on his two projects to date de Michael oversees all aspects of production in writing, producing and directing. But while his debut feature, Smoking Guns, was a straight-up genre piece, the same cannot be said of RED DEVIL. Indeed, it is fair to say this film will dodge any expectations you have, and it would be reductive to try and pin the film in in any one genre. This sprawling, imaginative and funny film has some genuinely entertaining moments. Buckle up. Free your mind. It’s a crazy trip of a film that leaves you wondering in places what the fuck is going on. But while it is refreshing to see a creative attempt to reinvigorate the British gangster film, the finished product doesn’t quite deliver on all de Michael’s ambitions.
This high body-count adventure follows husband and wife team, Ella and Oscar Knight, on a clean-up-by-killing Bonnie & Clyde mission...
This high body-count adventure follows husband and wife team, Ella and Oscar Knight, on a clean-up-by-killing Bonnie & Clyde mission to wipe out the local drug business. While the couple supply the obligatory sex scenes, their killing is tinged with a religious zeal that bleeds into other areas of the film where other oddball characters face existential crises. Everyone is on their own spiritual quest. Although Ella and Oscar provide the narrative thrust, RED DEVIL veers toward an ensemble piece, almost operatic in its style and content, as the narrative weaves into a continuum of encounters with highly stylised gangsters, drug-users, pushers, pimps and prostitutes. There are the usual suspects of the low-fi British gangster film. Vas Blackwood from Lock, Stock fame as Father Barry Clifton and Stephen Berkoff providing his usual exaggerated masculine menace as Lazarus. There is a notable performance by Jamie Crew’s drug addict turn as Riley Rose, while the British tradition of a comedy double-act is carried on by Hugo Lopez (Ian Reddington) and Gabriel (Matt Lapinskas). There’s a spark between these two as the duo inject much needed light-relief that if there was any justice would see them rewarded with their own spin-off.
As with many British indie gangster films, you can sense Guy Ritchie in RED DEVIL's DNA.
As with many British indie gangster films, you can sense Guy Ritchie in the film’s DNA. But with its elaborate narrative, luscious colours and theatricality, the film feels more like a spaghetti western riffing off the more melodramatic John Woo, with a nod to Scorsese. RED DEVIL doesn’t apologise for its vision that aims beyond the standard British low-budget fare. It’s a shame then that the film’s complexity feels at time overstuffed and you are left wondering if the film would have benefitted from a little trimming. In trying to do so much, the film overreaches, unsure of its own direction. The resulting production is uneven in places and its impact affected by some stiff acting. But RED DEVIL is still impressive and an entertaining watch. It’s both glorious and trashy. British cinema needs the imagination of Savvas D. Michael. With two more features, ORIGINAL GANGSTER and SAINTS AND SINNERS, Savvas is a talent to watch.
RED DEVIL is released In UK Cinemas 23rd November 2019.