Pusher is a remake from the first of a trilogy of films from Pusher 1996, to Pusher II (2004), to Pusher 2005. The original was remade again in 2010. Heck everyone should make their own version of Pusher and post it on YouTube, maybe do one of those multi-versioned edits like the rendering of that full length Star Wars created from hundreds of consumer videos. Pusher is a tale of drug use and drug pushing that we know from American films involves dilemmas for characters who are either hooked on their product or hooked on the money they make from their product. It’s a carefree lifestyle full of fun for the central character until they’re double-crossed or driven to madness from addiction, or driven to committing actions unbecoming of their personality due to life-quaking fear for their lives. The key to films like these is always the protagonist who eventually wants out. How far are they willing to go? And can they outsmart the brutal men who invest in their product? The answers to all your Pusher questions could rest in this 2012 incarnation.
The Story: Simple drug pusher Frank played by Richard Coyle (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)) who wheels and deals fit-in-your-palm-size bags of junk gets himself in a pinch. He has some unexpected trouble with funds he suddenly owes to Milo, a tall, lanky, long-haired mobster with East Europe charm played by Danish actor Zlatko Buric (reprising his role from 1996). Frank also has friends he loves but whom he loses his trust with, as so many men do who get themselves caught between drugs and money.
The Goods: Frank thinks he’s different and is innocent and sincere when he says he’ll have the money. Never in his wildest dreams would he think Milo and his sons, or his henchmen at least, it’s never quite clear the relationship, who could very well be his sons, would ever hurt him. The neat relationship is that Milo is a jovial character who almost treats Frank like a son. But when Frank discovers Milo and boys think of him just like any other “client” they’ve loaned money too, well, that’s when the film gets good. Our main character begins to arc.
Pusher reminds me of films like Layer Cake (2004) and Nil by Mouth (1997), two of my favorite low-fi indie joints (as Spike Lee might call it)…Pusher is small in location and all around feel in terms of scale but the characters lift it to a larger level, as does the quandary Frank finds himself in. The lights and music of the contemporary society, clubs and parties, in which Frank makes his living provides a often MTV-like music video flavor to Pusher’s film style, you know, the ever present musical montage and fevered Goodfellas (1990) panic-editing to show us how Frank strives to make good on your word.
The Flaws: Directors like Guy Ritchie and producers like Luc Besson do this type of film way better than anybody. It’s almost like once you see Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) or Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita (1990), The Transporter (2002), The Professional (1994), you name it, well then it’s hard to compare. Not like we need to compare but if you like watching movies and this genre appeals to you then you’ll know most of this you’ve seen before and have seen it in more audacious and daring feats with camera and crew.
The Call: Stow the dough but catch it streaming down the line. I think it’s worth it to see a drug dealer sweat a little. And we’re introduced once again to Buric who delivers a twist-worthy character non-typical of European gangsters we’ve seen before. I almost rather have a film called Milo. Can we get someone to push that through?
Rated R for pervasive drug content and language, some strong sexuality, nudity and violence. Running time is 1 hour and 29 minutes
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