“The only reason I came back to this craphouse was to find out who did it — and I’m not leaving until I do!”
A petty London gangster (Michael Caine) heads to his hometown of Newcastle to investigate the mysterious death of his brother.
Steely-eyed Michael Caine gives perhaps his iciest performance ever in this cult British gangster flick, which is ranked 16th on the British Film Institute’s “Top 100 British Films of the 20th Century”. Based on Ted Lewis’s crime novel Jack’s Return Home, it tells the cold-blooded tale of a man hell-bent on avenging his brother’s death, who simultaneously discovers that his niece has become embroiled in a pornography ring. The convoluted plot is far too complicated for its own good, but what one ultimately “remembers” about the film are its fine performances, the gritty on-location cinematography, and its hard-boiled dialogue (“You know, I’d almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow.”). Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie, and countless other modern filmmakers obviously owe an enormous debt to this bleak but groundbreaking movie, which you may find too genuinely unpleasant to really “enjoy”, but which should be seen at least once by all film fanatics. Remade with Sylvester Stallone (!) in 2000, but this version is widely considered a failure.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Michael Caine as Carter
- Mike Hodges’ stylish direction
- Excellent use of diverse Newcastle locales
Yes, as a cult favorite.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)