Long Good Friday, The (1980)

The Long Good Friday (1980), directed by John Mackenzie.

First review

Gangster Bob Hoskins is about to pull off his biggest triumph, a titanic real estate development in London which will make his organization more or less legit. Out of nowhere, without warning, he's being hit from every direction by some other mysterious group. They are inside his decision loop, attacking him faster than he can respond. Who are these guys? Can he figure it out in time, meanwhile keeping his American mafia investors on board? Is he even going to survive the weekend?

His dreams of legitimacy go up in smoke; he has to go the other way, becoming increasingly brutal to cope with the attacks. In a famous segment he lectures a group of suspicious characters as they hang upside down in a meat locker.

It starts with an incomprehensible first 10 minutes, and the cheap synthesizer action score made me think "ouch, this was better in memory." But Hoskins and Helen Mirren pull it together and it gets better as it goes. Hoskins is a demonic force and a joy to watch. Mirren is great as the loyal, competent wife, a full partner in her husband's plans.

Memorable last scene.

Pierce Brosnan, age 26, appears in his first film in a non-speaking part.

Available on Blu-ray. Rated R for violence.

Second review

A few more notes and new screencaps.

Finally, the ending:


Bob Hoskins shows a remarkable progression of emotions when riding toward his death: first surprise and shock, then a fierce fighting reaction, the desire to kill if only he could. Since he has no chance this fades into the determination to be be brave and make a good end.

And finally, something else: acceptance.

Photographed by Phil Méheux -- Goldeneye (1995), The Mask of Zorro (1998).

My thumbnails are from an old region A Blu-ray. Is this out of print now? Arrow has a remastered region B edition from the UK with more features but I have not seen it.

The Blu-ray has a better image than I recall.