Gangster Chic has moved from the smokey London climes and taken the “I’m a top geezer gangsters” with the white diaspora to Essex: the county of Southend, eponymous punchlines, forthcoming car manufacturing movies, and the third cinematic treatment of the Range Rover murders in Rettendon. In a hundred years of cinema you wait for an Essex seaside gangster flick to come along and nothing until 1999; and within little more than a decade you have three. And not wanting to spoil it, it doesn’t turn out well for those poor fellas in the Range Rover.
Bonded by Blood returns to the real life 1995 story of three gangsters brutally murdered in snowy rural Essex, but does no more than the two previous films to show us something about the characters and events that lead to a triple homicide that would reward our return to mid 1990s Essex. The story was a headline grabber at the time as it corresponded with the media’s backlash concerning ecstasy and the drug related death of teenager Leah Betts.
Instead of utilising the willing actors and obliging crew to make the story his own co-writer and director Sacha Bennet squanders a great talent padding the story out with cabaret style turns masquerading as anecdotes from characters who all seem to have done most of the course but have failed to graduate in “chirpy, cockney, not quite born in earshot of Bow Bells but my mum and dad, gaw bless em, moved down ‘ ere, geezer,” anecdotes that seek to draw you in to the characters rather than let the story move forward.
“You know everything is not an anecdote”
The trouble with anecdotes, as Neil Page (Steve Martin) snippily informs Del Griffith ( John Candy) in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, “You know everything is not an anecdote. You have to discriminate. You choose things that are funny or mildly amusing or interesting.” And after seeing Bonded by Blood you have to wonder what was mildly amusing or interesting? Give it a few years and perhaps get over the fear of alliteration and have a Rettendon Range Rover Retribution Retrospective with Essex Boys, Rise of the Foot Soldier and Bonded by Blood. And no you won’t be having an inception type multi-layered multiplex moment when some actors from the aforementioned films seem to appear in more than one playing different roles with different anecdotes.