Johnny Was Mark Hammond


I’m not exactly sure how to categorise Johnny Was, other than to say that Johnny Was was enjoyable. Part action movie, part post-IRA prison escape film, part urban gangster tale verging on a Guy Ritchie-style caper territory, Johnny Was is just unique enough to be interesting. Johnny (Vinnie Jones) is an ex-IRA soldier trying to escape his past by hiding out in London’s rough Brixton neighbourhood. Johnny’s former IRA boss, Flynn (Patrick Bergin), a recent escapee from Brixton Prison, tracks Johnny to a rundown second story flat with a Rastafarian DJ (Lennox Lewis) upstairs and a wannabe crime lord (Eriq LaSalle) downstairs. Johnny, blackmailed into helping his old boss, is soon drawn back into the dangerous and immoral world he worked so hard to escape. The acting in this film is solid, especially by former heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis (though I can’t vouch for the authenticity of his Yardie accent). Vinnie Jones plays his usual charming and enjoyable "hard man” self, even getting a chance to show off a wider range of acting skills in this lead role. The reggae-heavy soundtrack, created by legendary producer Adrian Sherwood, is particularly outstanding and worth the price of the rental. While lacking special features, Johnny Was is well worth your time if you’re into London-style gangster films, great reggae soundtracks or Vinnie Jones’s movies. I know I can't be the only one. (First Look/Peach Arch)