A riveting thriller in the powerful tradition of RESERVOIR DOGS, ESSEX BOYS stars Alex Kingston (TV's ER, THE CROUPIER) and Sean Bean (THE LORD OF THE RINGS, RONIN) in an unforgettable story about a dark criminal underworl... more »d where seduction and betrayal are a way of life! When ex-con Jason Locke (Bean) is released from prison, he returns home and realizes that his old cohorts have all profited from the empire he helped build. Trusting no one and attempting to restore his reputation and authority, he sets off a chain of events that shakes up the underworld! Also starring Tom Wilkinson (THE PATRIOT, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE) and Charlie Creed-Miles (THE FIFTH ELEMENT) -- the action explodes with Locke's maniacal bid to shift the balance of power!« less
"Essex Boys is a 1999 "gangster" film that takes the viewer into the gritty, dangerous domain of Essex's drug-dealing underworld. The story is narrated in part by a lad named Billy, a lowly (but fairly quick-witted) driver for the self-important kingpins, and though we don't see everything from Billy's vantage point, it is an effective and engaging means of presenting the story. Though the characters and the story are pure fiction, the inspiration for the film came from the murder of three suspected drug dealers whose bodies were found in a Range Rover in Essex in 1995. The story created around this real-life event is highly imaginative, plausible, gripping, and suspenseful.Sean Bean (Sharpe, Extremely Dangerous, Bravo Two Zero, The Fifteen Streets, Golden Eye), donning a cockney-flavoured Essex accent, is simply superb as the jealous, arrogant, mean-spirited, foul-mouthed Jason Locke, a drug-dealing thug who's just been released from prison (and who thinks he's God's gift to women). He's one of those chaps, the girth of whose vocabulary is such that he'd easily be rendered speechless were he required to utter so much as one sentence without lacing it liberally with the "F" word. There is not much at all to like about Locke. He treats women like dirt and has little more respect for his colleagues. Those used to seeing Bean as an action hero will no doubt enjoy (if that is the right word!) seeing him in such a nasty role. He is known for really internalizing his roles and becoming the character he's portraying; indeed, it's almost disturbing to see him here, for he simply exudes foulness.The film co-stars Alex Kingston (Moll Flanders) as Locke's feisty, shrewd, ambitious wife, Lisa. Kingston is a very capable actress who is well-paired with Bean in this film. Another familiar face is Tom Wilkinson (The Full Monty), who is wonderful as drug middle-man John Dyke. This is a gritty, violent film that doesn't hold back any punches in its depiction of the drug underworld. It's a good story with a very satisfying ending. It's a first-rate production and is consumately acted by all involved. Recommended to fans of the "gangster" film genre and to fans of Sean Bean."
Smart, tough Brit crime bites and stings
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 03/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After the flash and fire of Lock, Stock..., there were a whole spate of Brit crime flicks (including its empty-headed sequel Snatch). It's a credit to the genre (or sub-genre) that Essex Boys is one of the better entries.That can be attributed to a very intelligent script, terrific acting (since when have British actors failed to deliver the goods?), and fast-paced directing--all of which speak of a keen understanding of exactly how to craft a thriller that moves the way it should.Sean Bean is outstanding here as Jason, an ugly-minded thug who's just been let out of the pen. He finds his old mates, after settling a score in an especially violent scene, and together they set about raking in the pounds, primarily from drug dealing. What they don't count on is Jason's wife Lisa who's the toughest and smartest of all. Her plots and counterplots land her squarely in the femme fatale arena and it's a lot of fun to watch Alex Kingston, the actress who portrays her, strut her stuff.Also on hand are Billy Wiz, the naive driver who's conscripted into service for Jason, Lisa, and Billy's ex-mentor Mr. D., in an especially riveting performance by Tom Wilkinson, who did a great job in the film In the Bedroom.The ending is very far off from what anyone would expect; the plotting here shows off, as mentioned, just how smart the filmmakers--writer and director both--really are. A great addition to your crime flick set of films, Essex Boys bites, punches, stings, and packs a wallop. Grab it."
Another excellent performance by Bean
DragonHunter200 | Detroit | 07/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I don't feel the need to spell out the plot of the film, since you probably already know it if you're reading this, so I'll keep this short. If you're American and not used to watching British films you may have to watch it a couple times or try it with subtitles to catch everything, but the movie itself is still wonderful. Sean Bean is (as usual) the bad guy, and he plays it beautifully. If you're a fan of his or just into action-packed gangster flicks, I highly recommend Essex Boys."
J. Keith | 06/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Watching this movie, it's hard to remember that Sean Bean is an actor and not a vicious criminal. This is an extremely uncomfortable movie to see, but it's awesome."
Bleak and gloomy
Megan Stoner | USA | 09/01/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film provides a very good look into the underworld of British crime - perhaps too good.The premise is fairly simple: Jason Locke (played brilliantly by Sean Bean) is a gangster who's just got out of prison, and is mad. He gets more upset when he finds out his 'kingdom' of drugs and crime has been usurped by others during his absence, and vows to get his own back. The violence, mayhem, and double- and triple-crossing that ensues is no doubt quite accurate, but a bit too much for my sensibilities.This film no doubt does a great job of portraying its subject matter, and even has its sympathetic moments, but I find it lacks the ability to make an emotional connection with the viewer. I have to admit, though I very much enjoy Sean Bean's acting, I was glad to see this grim, gloomy film over."