THIS isn’t your average East End gangster saga. Wild Bill is an impressively subtle, no-nonsense debut from first-time director Dexter Fletcher, centring around Bill Hayward (Charlie Creed-Miles), a troubled guy coming out of prison, trying to live the good life while still tangled up in his murky past. It may sound rather gangsta-by-numbers but thanks to a wicked sense of humour and the underlying fear that a proper punch-up is only moments away, it is rarely less than gripping.
Trying desperately to keep a lid on his temper, Creed-Miles strikes a convincing figure as the hard man attempting to better himself, especially considering you’re never quite sure whether he’s about to lose it or not. This tension drives the film, with British cameos popping up all over the place – from Jaime Winstone to Neil Maskel – as Bill is spurred on to recovery by the rejection of his eldest son. It’s a pitch perfect performance from relative newcomer Will Poulter as the young man caught between the responsibility forced on him by an absent father and all the usual teenage crises. It may be a story told before, but Fletcher has nonetheless moulded a well-worn tale into a surprisingly tense and worthy addition to the British gangster movie canon.