Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5  
Shiner (2001)

After Sly Stallone's dismal "Get Carter" remake earlier this year, Michael Caine shows how it's done with this East End gangster revenge tale reminiscent of his 1971 classic.

He plays Billy 'Shiner' Simpson, a hardcase boxing promoter with a penchant for throwing cash around and pushing his reluctant son, 'Golden Boy' (Marsden), too far in the ring. Billy's financial future rests on his son winning a match against slick US promoter Frank Spedding's (Landau) prize fighter. But when Golden Boy loses Billy is convinced he's been 'got at' and sets off on a vengeful, embittered search for the culprit, only to find his past and weaknesses catching up with him.

A Lear-like construction serves well to show the gradual unravelling of a ruthlessly ambitious man trading on familial loyalty and past glory, but this is Cherry's film-writing debut and it shows. Opening with some contrived banter, clichés and some loose ends, the screenplay only comes into its own in the second half. Caine's trademark charisma deteriorates to become more interesting as Billy ricochets around London propelled by rabid rage and pathetic desperation.

Returning to the kind of cruelty and violence that made him so iconic as Carter, Caine's improved acting range and age imbue acts such as pointing a gun at a pregnant woman's stomach with a sense of sadness and distinct lack of glamour. It's a welcome departure from the Hollywood pap he's guilty of producing in the past, and so even more of a shame that "Shiner"s' ending is stolen wholesale from one of Tarantino's films.

End Credits

Director: John Irvin

Writer: Scott Cherry

Stars: Michael Caine, Martin Landau, Frances Barber, Frank Harper, Matthew Marsden

Genre: Crime

Length: 95 minutes

Cinema: 14 September 2001

Country: UK

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