Pusher started life as a Danish thriller directed by Nicholas Winding Refn. It then became a trilogy, was remade in Britain in 2010 as a Hindi language movie, and has now been remade once again, this time in English. It’s directed by Spanish filmmaker Luis Prieto, and relocates the drug-dealing and violent confrontations to the streets of Hackney. And it’s awful. Really, really awful.
The plot is generally the same as the original – a man loses a large amount of drugs during a transaction and has to pay back his gangster suppliers or get hurt as punishment.
Richard Coyle, playing the lead, is the only good thing about the film. His acting is watchable enough, but the movie does its best to distract us from him at every turn. The visual style is loud, colourful and obnoxious. The music, by Orbital, thumps away in the background like an impending migraine. Worst of all, Coyle is coupled with model-turned-actor Agyness Deyn, a woman who would be better sticking to her previous job instead of learning a below-par script and repeating the words on the page with little imagination or attempt at character.
Pusher didn’t need to be remade. If you want to watch a gripping and visually intriguing film about brutal drug dealers, rent or buy the original on DVD. If you want a headache, induced by a nauseating combination of extreme violence, repeated shots of cocaine consumption and pounding music, try this version.
Pusher (2012), directed by Luis Prieto, is distributed in the UK by Vertigo Films, Certificate 18.