Friday 12 October 2012

"Pusher" (Metro 12/10/12)

Pusher (18) 89 mins ***

Before the much-lauded Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn made Pusher, a 1996 thriller charting a fateful week in the life of a Copenhagen drug dealer, played by The Bridge’s Kim Bodnia. This London-set redo ditches those ever-pesky subtitles, rejigs the smuggling routes and cranks up the style; surprisingly, it translates pretty well. Richard Coyle is very solid in the central role, trying to protect both his business model and his kneecaps from the police, dodgy Mancunians, and Zlatko Buric (wisely retained from the original) as a terrifyingly genial kingpin.

With its pulsing Orbital soundtrack, this version is very much post-Drive. Director Luis Prieto tears restlessly through filters, light sources and camera tricks, maintaining Refn’s grim momentum in yanking us around an universe that – full of desperate folk in deepening holes – appears newly relevant. It remains an obsessively male world – though ex-model Agyness Deyn doesn’t embarrass herself as a druggy poledancer moll – and one high on its own flash, but the story and characters lurking beneath it still have the capacity to sock you in the gut.

Pusher opens nationwide today.

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