It’s taken me a while to get around to both watching and reviewing this recent version of Brighton Rock. Being very familiar with the original 1947 film, I was aware of the story, but also prepared for the changes as the setting moves from the 1930’s to 1964. I had also seen some of it being filmed in Hove earlier last year, and had been looking forward to seeing it since.
Pinkie Brown, a teenage hoodlum, witnesses the murder of his gang’s leader by a rival. He threatens the perpetrator, Fred Hale, and after an incident when Hale slashes Pinkie, he then goes further than instructed and kills Hale. Unfortunately for Pinkie and the gang, Hale had been photographed with a young waitress, Rose, who would be able to identify two of the gang members who dragged Hale off. All the men realise that they are in danger of being hanged, unless someone can silence Rose. So Pinkie is ordered to find out what she knows, which puts him in direct conflict with her manager, Ida, who quickly realises that Pinkie is a dangerous man and tries to warn the innocent Rose.
Unlike the original film, most of this version was filmed in Eastbourne. I can understand why, as modern-day Brighton is so different from 40+ years ago, it’s almost impossible to hide the contemporary facades along the seafront. Eastbourne, on the other hand is relatively unchanged. However, as a local resident it felt awkward and the pleasure gained from the original of recognising old parts of Brighton was lost.
Location apart, this wasn’t my only problem with the film. I found it unnecessarily violent and bloody, but lacking the dark, sinister and frightening air of the original. Richard Attenborough’s Pinkie was psychopathic, cold and menacing. Sam Riley’s Pinkie is a bad boy, but not someone you’d be overly worried about meeting down a dark alleyway. Helen Mirren’s Ida is good, but severely lacking the tenaciousness needed in the role of someone determined to bring Pinkie to justice, and I’m really not sure why poor John Hurt’s role was even required.
All in all, not a bad film, just a little pointless, whilst adding nothing to its superior predecessor.