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Villain Review

May 22, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
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Villain Review  

Villain Review

Craig Fairbrass– Eddie Franks
George Russo– Sean Franks
Robert Glenister– Roy Garrett
Tomi May– Johnny Garrett
Izuka Hoyle– Chloe Franks
Taz Skylar– Jason

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Philip Barantini
Screenplay by Greg Hall and George Russo

Distributed by Saban Films

Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, drug use, and some sexual material
Runtime– 97 minutes

Check it out here (also available on various Video On Demand outlets)


Villain, directed by Philip Barantini, stars frequent British crime flick actor Craig Fairbrass as Eddie Franks, a badass ex-con who desperately wants to live the non-criminal life after he gets out of prison. He just doesn’t have the capacity to deal with that life anymore. Eddie wants something else, something honest. Eddie’s plans and hopes are thwarted, though, as soon as he reconnects with his younger brother Sean (George Russo, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Greg Hall). Eddie and Sean own a pub that Sean has been managing since Eddie went to prison. During Eddie’s time away, Sean developed a massive cocaine problem, allowed the pub to go to shit, and started fraternizing with asshole local criminals Roy and Johnny Garrett (Robert Glenister and Tomi May). That fraternization led to Sean owing serious money to Roy and Johnny, not to mention a bunch of drugs that Sean was supposed to watch out for and that are now missing. When Eddie finds out about Sean’s misdeeds he tries to fix things for his younger brother. Unfortunately for Eddie, Roy and Johnny have no interest in Eddie’s plan to help Sean or Eddie’s issues putting that plan into motion. All Roy and Johnny want is what Sean owes them, and if they don’t get it they will kill Sean, Eddie, and anyone else who gets in their way.

Now, back in the day, Eddie used to be a serious bad guy. Eddie was a force to be reckoned with. But time has caused Eddie’s, for the lack of a better word, legend to dissipate a bit and he doesn’t engender the kind of respect that he used to. To the criminal world at large, Eddie is just an old man past his prime who no longer fits in. Eddie will be taken out just as soon as Sean is taken out. Eddie, though, still has a few tricks left up his sleeve and he intends to fix Sean’s problems. He really doesn’t want to. Eddie would much rather live a quiet, non-criminal life. But circumstances suggest he has to act otherwise.

And while all of that is going on, Eddie tries to reconcile with his estranged daughter Chloe (Izuka Hoyle), who just had a baby not that long ago. Eddie left Chloe’s mother during his hardcore criminal days and never really tried to establish meaningful contact with her or Chloe. Eddie wants to do so now, though. Chloe isn’t interested in a relationship with Eddie (she tells him multiple times that she just wants to be left alone), but Eddie figures he has to try to do this. Edie desperately wants to make things right.

And that, in essence, is what Villain is all about. A deeply flawed man trying to make changes to his life and existence and his inability to do so. There are instances throughout the movie where you could argue that Eddie is pushed into reverting back to his old ways, and there are times where you could argue that, once again, Eddie had options and ended up making the wrong choice. And it’s that sort of muddle that keeps the plot moving because what is Eddie going to do next? How is he going to react to the situation he’s in? And how are his decisions going to work themselves out? Will Eddie ever get to move away from his past, or, really, is his past really who he is? The movie never provides a concrete answer. It allows the audience to make up its own mind on what, exactly, is really going on with Eddie. And when you decide on what’s going on, it will color the way you look at the ending. Is it tragic/unsettling, or does the movie end the way it’s supposed to? I tend to think, at the moment, that the movie ends exactly how it’s supposed to, but will I think that way tomorrow? I don’t know.

Villain moves along at a deliberate pace, but it isn’t slow or boring by any stretch. Director Philip Barantini uses his time and resources wisely and keeps the story moving, but he also knows when to allow the actors and the story to breathe a little bit. Villain isn’t an action movie but it has some gunplay, some hand-to-hand fighting, and some incredibly nasty bits that seemingly come out of nowhere. The brutal hammer beat down Eddie delivers to some dipshits in the pub that refuse to pay their growing bar tab is a highlight. The scene doesn’t play like a typical fight, either in the sense that the characters involved go tit for tat in what they do or in the sense that it’s one shot from the hammer and it’s over. The fight scene starts and then it keeps going when you think it should be over. It’s uneasy as hell to watch and shows just how terrible Eddie can be and how dangerous he is.


Craig Fairbrass is perfect as Eddie Franks. Fairbrass knows how to balance the many facets of the Eddie character and gives him an integrity you probably don’t expect to see in an old criminal. The guy has been through so much bad stuff in his life, both self-inflicted stuff and stuff that likely just happened to him, and he’s somehow managed to survive it all and come to the conclusion that he needs to change. But can he change? Will he be able to? Fairbrass also gives Eddie Franks a sort of world weariness that a younger and lesser actor wouldn’t be able to pull off convincingly. I’m also a big fan of the way Fairbrass has Eddie navigate the aspect of the story where, because Eddie is older, everyone around him assumes that he’s out of his depth/out of his league. Eddie is frustrated by that shit, but he also tries to hold back, as best he can, on flipping the fuck out because he knows that by doing that he will just dig himself a deeper hole that he has to get out of. Eddie doesn’t really succeed with this but Fairbrass makes all of it interesting and makes you watch him. I don’t know if this is the best performance in Fairbrass’s career, but I’d be shocked if he didn’t get serious notice for what he’s done with Eddie Franks. He really is that good.

George Russo is fabulous as Eddie’s brother Sean. He makes Sean both sleazy and sympathetic, which is the Sean character in a nutshell. The guy is clearly in over his head and has no idea what he’s doing, but you can’t get too mad at him. Should he be doing so much cocaine all of the time? Should he be hanging out with a girlfriend that has her own problems and is a bad influence? God no, but you just can’t hate him. You absolutely hate what he’s doing, how he doesn’t come completely clean with Eddie despite everything that’s happening, but he’s also the guy you see terrorized in a field in the dead of night at the beginning of the movie. You just can’t hate him. You want him to be more responsible, though.

Robert Glenister and Tomi May are both terrifying and hilarious as the criminal thugs Roy and Johnny Garrett. They’re terrifying because they’re both ruthless assholes who only care about getting the money they think they’re owed and instilling fear in the public. And they will clearly do whatever it takes to get what they want. Even if that sounds like every scumbag criminal character you’ve ever seen in a movie or TV show it’s always unsettling to see that ruthlessness done well. As for Glenister and May being funny, my God these guys can cuss. Their rough dialogue is so profane and disgusting at times you can’t help but howl with laughter. Every single time one of them says “cunt” it’s comic gold. I would love to see these guys in their own movie being ruthless thugs, just swearing up a storm. The ending of Villain prevents that from happening, at least at the moment. I’m sure an enterprising screenwriter could come up with a way to make a “Roy and Johnny” movie happen, even with the ending being the way it is.

Izuka Hoyle could easily have her own movie, too, as Chloe, as she has quite the potential story to tell. She’s being abused by her boyfriend/husband (I’m not entirely sure what the guy is) and she’s looking for a way out of that relationship. She doesn’t want to accept any help from her father, though, because she doesn’t trust him. She claims that she has a plan to get out on her own and away from her abusive mate, but does she really have that in place? And what is she waiting for? I bet an absorbing drama could be made out of that situation. Chloe’s final scene is heartbreaking.

Villain is a terrific crime drama/character study featuring an amazing performance by star Craig Fairbrass. As I said earlier, I don’t know if this is Fairbrass’s best movie, but he does an outstanding job here and he should be getting serious notice for his performance. He carries the movie from start to finish and shows you that he can be both a bruising badass and an understanding, flawed human being. Villain is definitely worth your time.


See Villain. See it, see it, see it.


So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 4

Explosions: 0

Nudity?: None, which is kind if surprising.

Doobage:A field, yellow flowers, an off-screen kidnapping, life threatening, fear urination, a gun game, a British prison somewhere, personal effects collection, a rude but hot girlfriend, serious cocaine snorting, schmoozing, a dilapidated flat, a hidden stash in the floorboards, a sexy bar dance, going over the books, more serious cocaine snorting, hammer attack, serious face biting, a “cleaning up the pub” montage, a pub reopening, a drug deal of some sort, a slow motion dancing montage, an unexpected mob guy confrontation, pawn shop hooey, wrist stabbing, a serious arm wound, attempted reconciliation, off screen abuse, spray mace to the face, hardware store hooey, shower taking, bullet to the chest, barfing, hazmat suit hooey, dead body carving, hole digging, a massive fire, SWAT team hooey, guy friend bullshit, attempted robbery, an accidental shooting, a drive by shooting, and a proper ending.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Craig Fairbrass, Craig Fairbrass in a British prison, Craig Fairbrass brushing his teeth, old guy prison advice, a Mercedes that doesn’t look like a luxury car at all, a “life is different now on the outside” montage, up close cocaine sniffing, Craig Fairbrass going over the pub’s books, Craig Fairbrass attacking two people with a fucking hammer, “a drink on the house, from me to you,” an old woman bartender dancing, pawn shop hooey, use of the word “geezer,” use of the word “pokey,” old story, rampant British vernacular, dirty diaper hooey, “everyfrink,” Craig Fairbrass holding a baby, use of the phrase “bully boys,” Craig Fairbrass doing some nasty fucking shit, pay phone, use of the words “grassman” and “:sniffhead,” and a proper ending.

Best lines: “You lucky bastard! Fucking hell!,” “You’re fucking rude, you are,” “See you later. Fucking eat something,” “I thought you said you decorated the place?,” “Put it on the tab, ya dickhead,” “You do know we’re fifteen grand in debt?,” “I love ya, bruv,” “Turn the music up!,” “Just sit down over here you slippery little cunt,” “4200 and that’s only because you’re a friend of Sully’s,” “A baseball bat?,” “I need you to lend me twenty large,” “Fuck up, Eddie, I don’t want you in my life!,” “Who do you think you are, some fucking heavy villain or something?,” “And wrap that around your fucking arm! You’re bleeding everywhere!,” “Don’t say fucking sorry to me again!,” “Let me tell you,. You’re lucky I’m such a fucking gentleman!,” “You of all people, Sean,” “I told you to stay back!,” “You are a walking disaster, Eddie. Everything you touch turns to shit,” and “Your grandad will always love you.”

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Villain is a well-made British crime thriller/character study starring the great Craig Fairbrass in a terrific performance as a deeply flawed old criminal that just wants to live a straight, crime free life. Circumstances prevent that from happening, though, and we get to see how that all plays out. There isn’t anything particularly original going on in Villain, but, again, it’s well-made and top flight entertainment. If you’re a fan of Craig Fairbrass, British crime cinema, or just looking for something worthwhile to watch, Villain is definitely worth your time. See Villain. See it, see it, see it.

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Villain, Bryan Kristopowitz