Lack of originality hasn't stopped British director after British director pumping out gangster films by the batch, as if no other form of cinema existed. To them, of course, it doesn't. They can only acquire directorial street-cred by stuffing the screen with psychos and letting it drip with blood. One cannot, then, imagine that "Essex Boys'" director and co-writer Terry Winsor has not watched "Goodfellas" at least several hundred times.
"Essex Boys" involves trainee cabbie Billy (Charlie Creed-Miles) who goes to work for a just-released con, a volatile, desperate hard-nut, Jason Locke (Sean Bean). Billy, like a schoolboy innocent, is impressed by his new easy access to nightclubs before waking up to the deceitful reality of the gang`world. No-one trusts anyone else, and someone is doing something horrible to someone else at all times. Locke, for his part, refused to grass on his accomplices and so spent time inside. As he reckons that he is owed just a few favours, his intensity increases.
Even though Creed-Miles brings some warmth to Billy, he is often acting in one dimension only, and it is left to Bean to haunt you for some time afterwards as an unstable thug whom the actor keeps short of caricature. Alex Kingston, cast as Lock's wife, removes herself convincingly from her familiar role in ER and plays a woman whose toughness can't quite conceal her insecurity. But, as so often with this new rash of Brit gangster flicks, the structure is a bit wobbly, and so the film bounces between clever twists and convolution. Moreover, Terry Winsor just doesn't know how to end it.