The Eddie Boyd Story
Canadian war veteran Eddie Boyd (Scott Speedman - Dark Blue) is a man finding times tough as his job driving a bus is not providing enough to support his wife Doreen (Kelly Reilly - Eden Lake) and two children and he is disillusioned with how things are having served his country. He is also disillusioned as he always had a dream of becoming a famous Hollywood actor, a dream which didn't go down well with his father Glover (Brian Cox) a former cop. In a moment of desperation Eddie masks up his face with makeup, grabs a gun and robs a bank and in doing so starting a life of crime and infamy.
In the UK this movie based on the life of real bank robber Eddie Boyd is known as just "Gangster" and to me it is a misleading title. In fact I don't think "Citizen Gangster" as it is known elsewhere is much better and certainly doesn't suggest what you are about to watch is a study of a desperate man who takes desperate steps for his family and how it changes him.
Now "Gangster" works on one level as simple entertainment as we are lead through the life of Eddie Boyd as he goes from bus driver to bank robber and leader of a gang. I don't know how close it comes to the real Eddie Boyd's story but it shows him as a man who started robbing banks out of a need to provide for his family whilst enjoying the theatrics of robbing banks, being the showman as he bossed people around with a gun in his hand and a smile on his face.
But the more interesting aspect of "Gangster" is how robbing banks changed him going from a man with a chip on his shoulder to a man who gets off on danger. You can see this after his first robbery where having been shot at the buzz of it made him feel alive. We also see how seeing the headlines in the papers about the bank jobs he pulled also make him feel alive. But at the same time we see how his motivation changes as initially it appears that Eddie's life of crime is to provide for his family but it turns into an addiction to excitement and one which is detrimental to his marriage as his wife is always on edge that the police will show up at any time to arrest him.
Now as I said I don't know how close "Gangster" is to the real story of Eddie Boyd and as such don't know how accurate Scott Speedman's portrayal is but he certainly delivers an interesting character who as I said goes from criminal to support a family to criminal for the buzz. Whilst there are other good performances from the likes of Brian Cox, Kevin Durand and Kelly Reilly "Gangster" is very much a movie which rests on the shoulders of Speedman to make it work.
What this all boils down to is that "Gangster" is a good movie and an interesting look at the life of a real criminal. It is by nature a little cliche with its familiar theme of a desperate man driven to do desperate things but it is the motivation of the character and how the situation affects others which makes it interesting.