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Review: 'Pusher' remake is a middling drug-scene drama

October 25, 2012|By Mark Olsen | Los Angeles Times
  • Agyness Deyn and Richard Coyle in "Pusher."
Agyness Deyn and Richard Coyle in "Pusher." (The Weinstein Co. )

"Pusher" is an English-language, London-set remake of Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn's debut feature, directed by the Spanish-born Luis Prieto.

While it has the seeds of a distinctive, cross-cultural crime film, it feels mostly like some sort of experiment to crosswire the neon pastels and electronic thump of Refn's recent "Drive" with the grimier style of his earlier work.

Frank (Richard Coyle), a mid-level drug dealer, finds himself in over his head when his debts start to mount and a big deal doesn't come through. This sets him on a frantic flight through the city trying to scrounge up cash.

Whatever real sense of desperation that comes across is due to Coyle; if the film were better it might even serve Coyle as a calling card in the same way "Layer Cake" did for Daniel Craig.

This new "Pusher" also occasions the first major role for model Agyness Deyn, though much of her performance centers on stripping, bathing or donning lingerie.

The remake undercuts most everything that made the original distinctive, its tangy, pungent sense of low-lifes and their environment swept away for a glam, stylized world.

In the end, Prieto's "Pusher" feels like a Guy Ritchie knockoff.

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"Pusher." MPAA rating: R for pervasive drug content and language, some strong sexuality, nudity and violence. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes. At Sundance Sunset Cinema, West Hollywood.

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