‘The English’ wants to critique the blood-soaked Old West. Instead, it revels in it.
From the first shot, The English gives us a taste of how these films would play out, as an exuberant duo of actors, Jim Broadbent and Ed Gamble, take their time to explore the life of the gun-toting cowboy in the United States.
It’s a simple setup. Broadbent plays English, an ex-footballer whose life has landed him in the clutches of the law. Gamble plays English’s associate, Jack Davenport. Together, they are a trio who are so full of guns they have to be carried around with them.
It’s a simple setup, but one can’t help but wonder what the point is. And as the opening scenes play, there are a lot of them. But for me, they’re a way of introducing a different facet to the film. It’s not just an action caper.
The film is heavy on the acting from Broadbent and Gamble, although there isn’t much going on for the rest of the cast beyond the occasional scene.
They’re mostly given to scenes where the two actors are in their own world as they get to know each other. There are no set up shots or dialogue in the film. The scenes are shot one after the other, and they play out with some real depth.
The cast plays to the duality of the English gang – there are two sides to a character, and I think both actors are brilliant at conveying both.
Both Broadbent and Gamble portray a man of action that is willing to put his life on the line for the good of the gang.
That’s what I love the most about The English. From the first scene, where they meet up at a pub, it’s not just a story of crime as it is a story of two men who happen to be involved.