An explosive English thriller

Long before Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, there was 1982’s The Long Good Friday. It was— and still is—a revelation.

It’s an intricate and well-plotted British gangster movie originally billed as a story of “36 hours of terror,” starring an excellent Bob Hoskins (introduced in the American-audience trailer as a “British Edward G. Robinson”). The violence is frank, the soundtrack is menacing, the acting is superb (young Helen Mirren and Pierce Brosnan!) and the scenery—end-of-’70s London—is entirely absorbing. It has all the violence and cockneyness of the Guy Ritchie stuff, but with a political peg (I.R.A. violence, embryonic European Unionism and the fraught, little-sibling relationship of the English criminal underworld to the American mafia) and without the laughs.

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