The Antwerp Dolls, 2016.
Directed by Jake L. Reid.
Starring Jason Wing, Courtney Winston, Sean Cronin, Sebastian Foucan and Bruce Payne.
A ruthless businessman’s payoff to the Belgian mafia is intercepted by his revenge-seeking former protegees, launching a deadly war of violence and double-dealing…
Another peculiar sub-genre of recent years appears to have been the Cockney gangster movie, and The Antwerp Dolls is another aborted love child of the stylish, profane swagger of Guy Ritchie and uber-violent crime stylistics of Quentin Tarantino. Low budget, low brow and barely with any redeeming features, the directorial debut of Jake L. Reid should be forgotten with far quieter grace than how loudly it proclaims itself throughout the relatively thin running time, which by the way feels twice the length. All the way through, you really get the feeling this is cinema made for the kind of mindless thugs causing carnage across France right now in the name of football; packed with characters who almost pathologically have to say ‘fu*k’ every other word, all of whom are completely unlikeable, in a story which takes a million years to go nowhere of interest. There’s only one, slight reason to watch The Antwerp Dolls and it can be described in two words: Bruce Payne.
You probably know him as the slippery, camp terrorist who menaces Wesley Snipes in early 90’s thriller Passenger 57, or at least you should – Payne is one of those B-movie actors with such slimy, educated delivery you can’t help but enjoy him chewing the scenery, even when he’s given the kind of painful direlogue Reid affords him in his amateurish script; one specific court-holding monologue about monkeys and dolphins is hilarious because it’s trying to be so poignant. It’s just a shame Payne barely appears and instead we lurch from one set of tedious, morose, cartoonish Cockney villains to the next, all mostly shouting and growling angrily as they clomp their way through a narrative that wishes it was Scorsese-clever, but feels like Vinnie Jones with a hangover.
Double crosses, old boy gangsters, femme fatales, psychotics, you name it, Reid packs them into his story, and not one of them are half as interesting as they could have been. It’s probably because most of the actors involved are utterly hopeless. The weirdest piece of casting is Parkour legend Sebastian Foucan, best known for giving 007 a run for his money in Casino Royale, who pops up occasionally in a suit and slits the odd throat – he doesn’t even get to do any stunts! One can only assume he’s either mates with the director, or he got drunk once randomly with Payne and he got him the gig!
A largely brainless and painful experience, The Antwerp Dolls feels like someone gave a council estate 10 year old a camera, made him watch Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, and then asked him to make a movie. Even with the B-movie appeal of a schlocky actor like Bruce Payne, nothing can be done about the execrable script, terrible acting, boring story and sub-film school visuals. Jake Reid ought to either not bother again or be honest about the kind of Sun reading, thug market his film was made for. Anyone with an appreciation for cinema would do better than to waste a precious ninety minutes on this pointless offal.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Tony Black is a freelance film/TV writer & podcaster & would love you to follow him on Twitter.