By Bruce Fretts
Updated October 25, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

It’s the movie Guy Ritchie wishes he could’ve made: the wildly stylish, gleefully sadistic story of a U.K. wiseguy (Bettany) who usurps power when his boss (Naked’s David Thewlis) is imprisoned during the swinging ’60s — and what happens when he’s released 30 years later. Bettany proves his breakout work in A Beautiful Mind wasn’t an illusion, and McDowell (taking Bettany’s role in middle age) makes just as scary a sociopath today as he did in A Clockwork Orange. Directed with maximum flair by Paul McGuigan, Gangster No. 1 is, in short, the best Brit Mob flick since The Long Good Friday.

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