Writer: Adam Stephen Kelly
Director: James Crow
Good British gangster films are as rare as British tennis players through to the second round of Wimbledon. Unfortunately, Nemesis wouldn’t even make it to the qualifying rounds. Slow, clichéd and poorly acted, James Crow’s film has all the hallmarks of the 1990s, but without the glamour.
Organised crime boss John Morgan and his wife Sadie have arrived back to London from their home in Turkey. He’s visiting the capital in order to give a speech and a big cheque to a charity, but at the event an old enemy makes an unexpected appearance. John thinks that the drunk Frank is a gangster like him, but in fact he is a policeman (the most unlikely policeman) with a grudge to bear.
When Frank gets suspended, he’s unsure how to get the revenge he desires until a barman advises ‘Sometimes if you want to catch the bad guy, you’ve got to become the bad guy.’ The script doesn’t get much better than this; everyone talks in clichés and similes; An Englishman’s castle is his home, but the walls are crumbling and the drawbridge is down. That sort of thing. John has whole conversations that seem comprised entirely of metaphors.
Also having stilted exchanges are John’s daughter Kate and her new girlfriend Zoe. Their relationship is very unconvincing, but matters become even stranger when Zoe finds Kate’s mother Sadie walking topless around the kitchen as if she is a glamour model from old lads’ mags such as FHM and Nuts. It must be the strangest scene in the film, and there’s no reason for it, as it doesn’t lead to any lesbian action, but it certainly titillates in the tawdriest way.
The film does pick up when Zoe comes to dinner with two bottles of cheap wine, but it’s not clear if this move into black humour is intentional. But it’s more interesting than Frank the Cop’s glacial decision to act; his solo scenes, though competently acted by Nick Moran, make Nemesis seem much longer than its 90 minutes. Every scene is undercut by music that would be more fitting for a trailer or, better, the background music of a video game where your avatar is choosing a new outfit or selecting a new gun before going back onto the battlefield.
As John, Billy Murray is one-note, and his calm patronising manner changes little whether he is setting cars alight or whether he has a gun pointed at his head. Lucy Aarden tries her best as Zoe, but some of the other acting is a little ripe, and not helped at all by the script. And although the film is set in London, there are few outside shots; indeed, we see more of the city in the photographs on the walls of John’s apartment than we do through director Crow’s camera. Of course, this could be down to budget and the pandemic, but it lends the film a theatrical quality that it can ill afford.
Perhaps in other times, this could be a London film with locations that root it in the city. As it is, Nemesis is an over-complicated home invasion movie that could be based anywhere.
Released on Digital Download on 29 March 2021