THE BEST PROMOS
- Runtime:102 min
- Release Date:2013-09-15 23:37:00
- Director: David Green
- Genres: Adventure, Biography, Comedy, Crime, Drama, Romance
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The idea of chart-topping 'Genesis' front-man Phil Collins playing the
role of notorious east-end Great Train Robber 'Buster' Edwards was
enough to put me off this movie for life. I didn't see it until many
years after its release, and only then by accident on television.
I have to say that I owe Mr Collins an apology. If he'd not had so much
previous form in the pop-charts I'd have hardly recognised him.
The so-called Great Train Robbery was the most audacious and successful
crime-caper carried out by the biggest team of amateurs in British
Criminal history. It naturally suited the authorities of the day to
hype them up as a cunning, ruthless brigade of experts, because it
helped draw a veil over their own lax security, and profound political
embarrassment that the heist engendered. Compared to the vicious,
homicidal scumbags of today, these guys were little more than a bunch
of chancers. Notorious Big-Man Ronnie Biggs was only involved by
invitation as an afterthought. He was a tradesman, but this job offered
It's a low-key representation of the crime which, I suspect, more aptly
represents the bumbling, uneducated behaviour of those involved, who
simply got very lucky, and then became extremely notorious. Collins
excels as the working-class wideboy, getting in far too deep and never
stopping to consider the broader implications of stopping one of Her
Majesty's Mail trains, and stealing millions of pounds.
His confusion and inability to contend with the juggernaut that follows
is entirely believable. Likewise Julie Walters as his long-suffering
but doting moll of a wife, torn between what the proceeds could offer
and her hankering for an ordinary, stable family life.
The culture clash in Mexico is perfectly realised. Untravelled and
untutored English homebodies who have never done anything more exotic
than pick winkles on Southend Pier, suddenly find themselves in a hot,
tropical paradise that actually proves to be anything but. They can't
have the food and drink they grew up with. Everything is 'foreign'.
They don'tunderstand the language, the currency; they're confused by
everything and everyone. Like true Brits abroad; they don't adapt well.
His wife is first to crack, transported away from all of her family and
friends, the familiar if drab neighbourhoods that now seem like heaven.
The culture-clash is finally shattered open when one of their children
sickens and they have no idea what to do or say. They can make no sense
of the hospital. Their anxiety and confusion is an object-lesson. For
'er-indoors'; it's the last straw.
Eventually, stricken with home-sickness and with finances depleted;
Edwards goes back to face the music. The establishment will show no
mercy. It's a blatant miscarriage of justice. But it was not the first,
nor would it be the last.
We finally see him at his flower stall, much older and little wiser.
Edwards was a hapless nobody, a small-time criminal prospector who hit
paydirt. The Robbery was the second biggest thing he experienced
because it changed his life. His wretched suicide much later was the
biggest, because that ended it.
It's a movie that I found thoroughly entertaining against all
expectations, and won over a deeply-held prejudice about popstars
taking to an acting career, and using their singing status to leapfrog
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I will admit I didn't pay full attention to this film when it was on,
but I was interested to see a good singer acting (although apparently
he was a child actor). This is the true story of Buster Edwards (Phil
Collins), one of the thieves who carried out 1963's Great Train
Robbery. He goes into hiding as the police are not letting the case go,
and arranges his wife June (Julie Walters) and child Nicky (Ellie
Beaven) to meet him in Mexico, along with pal Bruce Reynolds
(EastEnders' Larry Lamb). It is obvious his wife isn't very happy with
their new life, and Buster must choose between a paradise life and
freedom or his family and possibly prison. Also starring Stephanie
Lawrence as Franny Reynolds, Michael Attwell as Harry, Cape Wrath's
Ralph Brown as Ronald 'Ronnie' Biggs, Christopher Ellison as George,
Sheila Hancock as Mrs. Rothery, Martin Jarvis as Inspector Jack
Mitchell, Clive Wood as Sergeant Chalmers, Anthony Quayle as Sir James
McDowell, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade's Michael Byrne as Poyser,
Harold Innocent as Justice Parry, Rupert Vansittart as Fairclough, John
Benfield as Jimmy, John Barrard as Walter, Carole Collins as Linda and
Amy Shindler as Susan. Collins has made songs I like, including
"Against All Odds", "In The Air Tonight" and "You Can't Hurry Love", if
I'd paid full attention I might have seen that he does alright. Maybe
also that Walters slightly steals the show, but never mind, I saw
enough of the really likable Lamb as Collins' pal, and the story looked
okay, so I am happy with what I did see for now. It was nominated the
Oscar for Best Song for "Two Hearts" (it did win the Golden Globe).
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