Although it was the brilliant Drive which brought Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn to prominence and notoriety in world cinema, it was in fact the hugely successful Pusher trilogy which initially formed his career - and now, with British funding, Spanish film maker Luis Prieto has remade the original cult hit, and has done so to great success.
Richard Coyle plays Frank, a London based drug pusher who slowly watches on as his life deteriorates beneath him over the course of one week. Everything seems to be running smoothly - alongside his friend Tony (Bronson Webb) and girlfriend Flo (Agyness Deyn), Frank is making a steady amount of money from selling drugs, until disaster strikes during one of the biggest deals he has ever had to make.
Promising drug baron Milo (Zlatko Buric) a vast amount of money for selling on his cocaine - when the police interfere with the organised deal, in order to survive a lengthy prison sentence, Frank has no choice but to dispose of the drugs in a lake. However, despite such actions saving Frank from a spell in prison, they could well cost him his life, as he returns back to Milo with neither his drugs nor money, as the realisation dawns on him that he is going to have to somehow raise the funds himself or face the consequences.
Pusher manages to be your traditional British crime thriller, full up of the clichéd, stereotypes that, more often than not, prove a mere burden on the genre - such as the stylish opening credits where we are introduced to each performer by their character's name - as well as a few too many generic 'taking drugs in a club' sequences. Yet Pusher just has this charm about it that let's it off the hook in many instances, using it's conventionality to its advantage, certainly helped along by a good script and a strong, pulsating story.
There are definitely comparisons to be made between Pusher and Drive, as you can certainly tell these are two stories coming from the same, creative mind of Winding Refn. Music is also used effectively, with an upbeat, electronic sound track which matches the fast pace of the film, which is relentless in it's approach. Right from the word go - Pusher is gripping and exciting.
Although comparing to Drive that shouldn't take anything away from Prieto, who certainly stamps his own mark on this picture. But it is of a similarly stylistic nature that focuses predominantly on the mind of one merciless and complex individual. Yet however impressive Coyle may be, needless to say, he's no Ryan Gosling.
Having said that, Coyle does a fine job at our protagonist, in a film where we rely heavily on our lead performance. It's gratifying to see him take on such as a role, as this talented actor can now put his no doubt regretful decision to partake in Madonna's lacklustre W.E. behind him. Meanwhile Deyn plays the Carey Mulligan role well, as the beleaguered and disregarded girlfriend, portraying the character with a degree on sincerity. Who said models can't act eh? Actually to be fair I've said that. A few times.
Pusher is simply good fun, and although relatively melodramatic in parts, remains at a fast pace, and certainly keeps you engaged throughout. If you haven't yet seen the original trilogy it's definitely worth seeking them out, and while you're at it - it might just be worth giving this remake a go too.