New Reviews
Django Unchained
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Les Misérables
Chernobyl Diaries
The Cabin in the Woods

Spivs (2004)

You cant cheat an honest man.

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 95 minutes

UK Certificate: 15


‘Spivs’ deliberately starts off wanting us to think that it’s yet another pseudo-Guy-Ritchie London gangster flick – the sort of film where we’re likely to come across a man called Liam the Limb who keeps his victims’ arms in the boot of his car, and lots of people use words like “Claret” accompanied by supposedly-hilarious Cockney-English subtitles. Yup, we’ve seen it all a hundred times before. The thing is, though, that after a while this one turns into something different entirely. Ah, but does that make it any better than the films it’s cheekily trying to make us think it’s copying? The answer, sadly, is probably not.

It stars Ken Stott, Nick Moran and Kate Ashfield as three small-time con artists – or “spivs”, if you’d prefer to stay true to the title – whose latest scam involves half-inching a truck. They’re hoping it’ll be full of DVD players or microwave ovens or something similar, but when they open it up they discover it’s packed to the gunnels with asylum seekers (how very topical!). Of course, as soon as the lorry’s doors open, the lot of them run off into the night – with the exception of two kiddies (Rita Ora and Christos Zenonos) who insist on speaking a language that can only be described as “foreign”. With nowhere to go, the pair of them end up being reluctantly babysat by Stott’s character Jack – and there, in a nutshell, is the rest of your story.

As vaguely watchable as it is, ‘Spivs’ just suffers from too many problems to be considered a success. Its sudden right-turn into sentimental melodrama is undoubtedly an unexpected move, and there’s a real shock about an hour in, but the writing is uninspired and the cast poorly-used. Stott is both bored-looking and boring to look at as the story’s lead, Moran plays pretty much the same role he always does, and Ashfield – who I think is a great actress we’ll be seeing much more of in years to come – is sadly miscast as the tale’s vampy temptress. Stand-up comic Jack Dee gets a minor supporting role, but personally I’d rather he spent his time bringing us more of his fantastic comedy if this sort of thing is as far as his acting’s going to take him.

Writer-director Colin Teague, who previously helmed 2002’s distinctly underwhelming ‘Shooters’, is a man still with much to prove, and he doesn’t really do himself any favours here. His film’s a bit of a con – and that’s rarely a good thing.

It's Got: An obvious ‘Only Fools & Horses’ reference in the form of a “dipstick” gag.

It Needs: A far better ending – the one used here is weak, abrupt and seems all too easy.

DVD Extras Director’s commentary, a trailer, and a 16-minute featurette containing the usual brand of fairly uninsightful cast and crew interviews. Version reviewed: Spivs DVD Extras Rating: 4/10


Just like something that’s fallen off the back of a lorry, it looks half-decent but doesn’t work very well.