The Long Good Friday Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Eddie Constantine, Dave King Director: John MacKenzie In the 30 years since director John MacKenzie fought tooth and nail to see his cinematic dream realised there has been many a gritty drama set against the ganglands of London. Entertaining enough most of them have been too. But while the likes of Guy Ritchie in recent years have mixed a little of the cheeky-chappy into films such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, what still sets The Long Good Friday apart is its authenticity and brutality. MacKenzie and his star Bob Hoskins struggled against the film's American backers' bid to tone down the violence and even threatened court action to prevent the lead actor's voice from being dubbed for the US TV market. Thankfully, common sense (and financial backing from George Harrison's Handmade Films) prevailed and The Long Good Friday loses nothing with the passage of time. Hopkins' gritty gang lord lead is a man on the brink, forced into compromise and change but only, he believes, on his own terms. A little like Margaret Thatcher's England itself as the 70s came to a close and the nation fought to keep up with a fast-changing world. After years of controlling his patch, Harold Shand (Hoskins, right) sets his sights on expansion. With the Olympics coming to London he sees the chance to move into real estate and to join hands with the American mafia, who he hopes will finance his new deals. And so it all builds up to an Easter weekend and the shady transactions that Shand hopes will secure his future. But it all goes horribly wrong - and just when Shand needs to show that he has things under control. By framing key scenes in near darkness, and allowing Shand to explode into rage, MacKenzie heightens both the tension and the desperation. And in the end, that is what is at the core of The Long Good Friday: it's about a man (and a city) desperate to move on but hobbled by traditions, and behaviour, it can't escape. Shand fights until the bitter end - and there's a hint of a resigned smile in the fabulous finale, when his character finally realises the times are passing him by. It's the role Hoskins was born to play - (small) part lovable rogue, (large) part 'orrible little man, as he might say. Helen Mirren, as always, is superb as the intelligent, upper class woman drawn to a little rough trade, but MacKenzie's real triumph is to have produced a piece of cinema that while it looks authentically 70s, is timeless in its portrayal of the unstoppable march of time, and of change.