“Do you adapt, or perish?“ – Nemesis (Film Review)

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The backdrop of London frames this low-budget, independent British gangland thriller. But as low budget and independent is it is, it doesn’t drop on quality in terms of talent and story. Produced and directed by James Crow, this story digs deep into a plot laced with the dark side of the criminal underworld in England’s glorious capital.

Billy Murray, known to millions as his turn in popular UK police drama The Bill over 9 years and then soap-opera EastEnders from 2005 to 2006, brings his raspy voiced, calm and collected posture as crime boss John Morgan who could just as easily be one of his villainous small-screen characters. Morgan arrives back in London with his gorgeous mob-wife Janine Nerissa Sothcott and social-media fixated daughter Ambra Moore, putting some of his shady past behind him but still carrying the legacy he earnt over his years in the underworld.

But his welcome isn’t plain sailing. Morgan has to contend with bitter police officer Nick Moran and rival crime boss Bruce Payne who both have vendettas against the former kingpin for their own reasons.

Murray is perfect as Morgan, a seasoned actor who carries the look and attitude of one you can really believe is a London heavy in terms of crime. He doesn’t need to carry guns or dress like a pimp; he just carries himself in smart suits with his silver tongue and with no mercy to those who cross him. He’s a mentor and friend to some, and a thorn in the side to others, but you can’t help want him to come out on top thanks to Murray’s ability.

The talent is perfect in terms of they’re the everyman and woman on the street. No major names, no over-the-top 2D characters. Yet they are happy chewing cigars, wearing expensive suits, having drivers chauffeur them to expensive restaurants and fancy hotels, and using violence when needed. London truly works for these gritty and urban gangland thrillers, itself acting as a supporting cast to bring the story to live. There’s nothing large or grand in scale about this, as expected, and it’s all about the cast.

Payne is the perfect intimidating big-boss going up against Murray’s cool and care-free kingpin. Two sharks who want to share the same pond, but there’s only room for one, and it’s Payne who wants it all. It’s a story about new methods of crime worming out the old; as Payne wonderfully snarls “Adapt, or perish.”

Screen veteran Julian Glover even makes a wonderful appearance as shady lawyer who is clearly relishing being a foul-mouthed know-it-all with the right connections and who talks the talk.

After the first half of establishing our players and the world they live in, it’s down to the dangerous climax for everyone involved when things turn to a heist in the Morgan family home. A few twists you won’t see coming make this watchable as you’ll be waiting to see just who is pulling whose strings and why. Yet it’s Moran’s former police officer out to find Morgan who slows things down, cutting back to his story when you just really want to see the main narrative

The look and feel of the film is tighter than most independent film productions, and there’s a real labour of love on screen for both the story Crow wants to tell and the film-making process itself. Shaky cam when needed, nice establishing shots of the city, an underlying score that is chilling with the crime on screen and violence used in brutal fashion. Nemesis is entertaining for all the right reasons and does the British crime genre justice, just as expected.

Nemesis is out to buy on DVD / digital download from March 29th 2021

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