A skillfully made British gangster movie that is nearly perfect in its 1st hour only to become muddled, both morally & in its plot, in its 2nd half. The film feels torn between having Caine become a villain or having him stay a hero & it tries to play it both ways. It's moralizing thus seems both superficial & too heavy, like the film was going one way & then backed out. Still, it's a capable movie if non-committal
On the surface, a post-modern transposition of a typical American crime drama onto the atypical landscape of England's bleak industrial north. The grit & grime of the place infects & infuses the standard film noir conventions with a level of violence & depravity rarely seen. However, beneath this surface, the film offers an insightful study on the futility of vengeance; as death stalks its characters, like a shadow.
There's a reason Michael Caine is Christian Bale's butler. After getting pinched with a rap sheet a mile long he had to strike a deal, and that entailed witness protection in America. Cleaning up after Batman allows him to vicariously relive his violent glory days. Ray Liotta could only have dreamed of such a sweet deal.
Upon rewatching, I'm gonna have to add this to my list of favourite British films. It's so much more than the synopsis above would have you believe. It offers an unrelentingly grim portrait of Britain and does an amazing job in depicting the stupidity and insanity of the revenge.
Fairly plain pulp fiction is here transformed into fascinating surfaces of circumstantial detail and mordant juxtapositions. Caine, as ever, a castor-wheeled block of emollient stone is well suited to the cypher-like Carter. The utilisation of the down-at-heel locale helps paint a suitably tawdry fresco to decorate the rather convoluted plot. Deliciously mean.
Sordid and mean spirited pulp with a classic score, and probably the british gangster film par excellence. Michael Caine, in a brutal but cool performance, plays the avenger Jack Carter, a London racketeer who goes to the foggy Newcastle trying to get the people who killed his brother. Seriously nihilistic, bleak and vividly detailed.