Somewhat Mild Bill
After 8 years in prison, Bill (Charlie Creed-Miles) returns to his life, determined never to set foot inside a jail cell again. Outside, he tries to pick up the pieces of his life, including reconnecting with the strangers his children have become and steering clear of old accomplices.
This is not the film.
Wild Bill is the directorial debut of the amusingly named Dexter Fletcher, better known as an actor in films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake and many more – he even played Robert De Niro’s first mate in Stardust. Yea, that guy!
You might expect Wild Bill to follow in the footsteps of some of his previous films and the set up certainly has elements of the gangster genre and the potential for the usual motormouth, scattershot antics but Fletcher works hard to keep the film grounded and unusually focussed on the very real drama of a man trying desperately to forge a new path in his life while attempting to find some way to interact with young men he hardly knows.
His kids, aged 11 and 15, have been abandoned by their mother for months before his release, forcing the hand of the local social services. This sets up a neat conundrum for the recovering criminal – he could flee to escape his former life completely but not without losing his children forever.
The subject of the drama is effective and there’s a refreshing attempt to steer clear of quirky humour, excessive cursing and random acts of violence. The trailer for Wild Bill promises something in the vein of Guy Ritchies early work but the reality is much more slow paced and dramatic – with the lone action scene an organic part of the overall narrative.
Wild Bill is a solid debut for Fletcher but isn’t without its niggling problems. Lead Creed-Miles does a good job of suggesting the celebrated pent up aggression of his old life while struggling with the demands of turning over a new leaf and the cast is peppered with some welcome small appearances from the likes of Andy Serkis and Olivia Williams – who you suspect are here to help their mate out. The only real acting aberrations are unlikely gangster Iwan Rheon (Simon from Misfits) and young Will Poulter, who you may remember as poncy Eustace from the third Narnia film. He simply doesn’t convince as a hard character, one who has had to fend for himself for years.
Wild Bill is an amiable enough production, nicely shot and with a refreshing take on a criminal genre that has become crippled by its own all too common elements. All in all, we hope it’s a taster of bigger and better things to come from a new British directing talent.