Full disclosure: I grew up with Dexter Fletcher. Not in the sense we used to play Rounders together in the schoolyard or anything, but, nonetheless, he was still a significant part of my formative years. Mainly because Press Gang, the children’s TV drama from the late 80s, was a significant part of my childhood and Fletcher was one of the main (and coolest) characters on the show.
After a long career in front of the camera (which we’re hoping hasn’t come to an end) and being a part of many iconic British films (Lock Stock, Layer Cake), Dexter Fletcher now makes his debut bow behind the camera to bring us Wild Bill. And, as it turns out; I still want to be like him. Because now he has directed a film that could turn out to be just as iconic as some of the ones he’s starred in. Wild Bill is a gritty East End story with a decidedly Western (as in Cowboys and Indians) vibe about it.
The story follows a seriously whey protein’d-up Charlie Creed-Miles as the ‘Lone Ranger’ with the fearsome reputation of the title, returning home from prison determined not to slip back into the habits that put him there in the first place. Finding out that the children he left behind with their mother have been fending for themselves for years he at first feels unduly obligated to stick around to help out. But he soon realises he’s been given a chance to do something right in his life for a change – if he can keep his kids out of the clutches of the dual threats of the local social services and the local criminal underground he was once a part of. It all leads to a climatic stand-off as good as any seen at the OK Corral, but without the obvious clichés.
Fletcher resists the temptation to give himself a starring role in his own film and instead recruits a number of other big British names, like Andy Serkis, Jason Flemyng and Sean Pertwee, to fill out the nicely taught plot. Special mention has to go out to young Will Poulter, of Son of Rambow fame, who sheds the ‘cherub’ to play Charlie’s difficult and resentful eldest son, Dean.
Wild Bill is a deliberate rebuff to some of the more pulpy gangster capers Brits are well known for and, with its great camera work and efficient style, it should (and hopefully will) be the movie that marks Dexter Fletcher out as a new power player in the British film industry:
Wild Bill is released 23rd March, 2012