You cant cheat an honest man.
Running Time: 95 minutes
UK Certificate: 15
Country: United Kingdom
Spivs deliberately starts off wanting us to think that its yet another pseudo-Guy-Ritchie London gangster flick the sort of film where were 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, weve 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 its cheekily trying to make us think its 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 youd prefer to stay true to the title whose latest scam involves half-inching a truck. Theyre hoping itll be full of DVD players or microwave ovens or something similar, but when they open it up they discover its packed to the gunnels with asylum seekers (how very topical!). Of course, as soon as the lorrys 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 Stotts 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 theres 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 storys lead, Moran plays pretty much the same role he always does, and Ashfield who I think is a great actress well be seeing much more of in years to come is sadly miscast as the tales vampy temptress. Stand-up comic Jack Dee gets a minor supporting role, but personally Id rather he spent his time bringing us more of his fantastic comedy if this sort of thing is as far as his actings going to take him.
Writer-director Colin Teague, who previously helmed 2002s distinctly underwhelming Shooters, is a man still with much to prove, and he doesnt really do himself any favours here. His films a bit of a con and thats 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 Directors 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 thats fallen off the back of a lorry, it looks half-decent but doesnt work very well.