Charlie review

In the Swinging '60s there were only two names that struck fear into the heart of your average Londoner: the Krays and the Richardsons. While Ronnie and Reggie ruled the north, Charlie Richardson and his "Torture Gang" set up shop south of the river, brutalising the local toerags into terrified respect.

Jumping on the Britflick gangster bandwagon years after its wheels fell off, this flashy biopic trundles along a thin line between finger-wagging outrage and fascination. It's the performances that are hard to get past, though. Ex-Bros popster Luke Goss plays the ruthless Cockney villain with impressive swagger but, well, he's Luke Goss, and director Malcolm Needs is more interested in propping up his supporting cast with EastEnders cameos (Anita Dobson and Leslie Grantham, together again at last).

The gruesome torture scenes spill enough blood to earn an 18 certificate, but Charlie's blatant one-sidedness means the movie can never cut to the bloody heart of the matter. Criminal.

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