Ill Manors Ben Drew

Ill Manors Ben Drew
That Ill Manors plays as a particularly laughable and exploitive hip-hop music video montage isn't much of a surprise, considering that its soundtrack, Plan B's third album, has already been released to critical and commercial success. His associated film, which he wrote and directed, is a pastiche of all things tired in the British crime genre, utilizing every drug and prostitute cliché available to support the assorted colour filters and styles present during each individual song. All of which view as particularly tortured and overdone flashbacks for the various "characters" throughout.

Loosely, the plot follows four separate drug dealers, each with a vaguely different disposition, as well as a couple of crack whores, one of which has a baby that's stolen, sold and eventually thrown out of the third story of a burning building. Mostly, when not modeling amidst the over-stylized, very early '90s music montages, they stand around with guns shouting profanities at each other. One of them invites over two 15-year-old girls, under the guise of "model management," and feeds them crack, while another exploits a whore to get her to turn tricks for his benefit.

Everyone, as denoted in the lyrics to Ben Drew's occasionally inspired but mostly interchangeable songs, has a background of molestation or abandonment, growing tougher by the year until they all eventually live a day-to-day life of gun-toting, drug dealing absurdity. Some characters are shot, others sacrifice themselves and still others wind up enacting assassination missions because of their involvement in the mean streets.

The overly desperate, sensationalist approach to the seedy underbelly of the UK is so overdone, pleading for the audience to appreciate just how dingy this world really is, that's it's often unintentionally hilarious. As established 20 years ago, making thug life hip isn't so much revelatory as it is childish and indulgent, revealing a filmmaker preoccupied with his image.

It's unfortunate that rubbish like this continues to get made. There are no characterizations, original storylines or even a coherent, engaging plot amongst the oft-ugly music videos comprising this "film." It's just derivative posturing meant to titillate a younger male audience — the children of the middle-class — that want to experience the excesses of the gangster life vicariously, ignoring that its reality is far less kinetic.

If you want to watch a movie about drug addicts, check out Down to the Bone and leave this rubbish to collect dust in a bargain DVD bin at a Wal-Mart where it belongs. (BBC)