User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 34 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 34
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 34
  3. Negative: 3 out of 34
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  1. Aug 4, 2011
    6
    Enjoyable tale of a aging London gangsters reminiscent look back upon his violent rise from muscle man to top dog through the 1960's and 1970's. Well acted all around and Paul Bettany plays the role of a psychotic young hood brilliantly. Well worth a watch.
  2. WinstonJ.
    May 16, 2006
    2
    This is a painfully bad film, though stylish to a degree. It betrays its origins as a play throughout. Whereas a film like Closer, for instance, achieved the transition from stage to screen with some good results, this fails miserably. In particular, the progression from the Sixties to modern day is ludicrous: summaries of the Seventies (a shot of Sid Vicious), and Eighties (snorting This is a painfully bad film, though stylish to a degree. It betrays its origins as a play throughout. Whereas a film like Closer, for instance, achieved the transition from stage to screen with some good results, this fails miserably. In particular, the progression from the Sixties to modern day is ludicrous: summaries of the Seventies (a shot of Sid Vicious), and Eighties (snorting cocaine) are perfunctory, and the 'ageing' of the actors - powdered wigs etc. - is ludicrous. McDowell is a terrible miscasting; the scene between him and the older Frank is excruciatingly bad. And the phoney East-End accents? Bettany's performance redeems it marginally (who could forget "this is my favourite axe..."). Otherwise, this is a trainwreck. To be avoided. Expand
  3. DavidJ.
    Sep 27, 2005
    9
    Better than getting kicked in the face with a pair of golf shoes.
  4. Rick
    Oct 28, 2003
    7
    A great psychologically driven gangster, horror film of bloody cynicism that leaves much to the imagination. One for the sadists of this world. It leave to the imagination is superb and a must to see although Mcdowell is a bit disappointing.
  5. GilbertMulroneycakesOnParade
    Jul 19, 2003
    7
    Of the 24,306 British gangster films of the mid to late nineties, this is one of the better ones, in that it's not completely and utterly awful as, for example, Circus. Doesn't really stand out either, but it's good while you're there - and big Mal (McDowell) is in it too, so it can't be wholly unentertaining without breaking the laws of physics.
  6. BrianK.
    Apr 23, 2003
    8
    Paul Bettany is Brilliant very scary! H e makes the movie, all around good show.
  7. AndyM.
    Dec 7, 2002
    10
    A brilliant british gangster film, well acted, well written and excellently produced. Watch it.
  8. BollA.
    Nov 14, 2002
    10
    Rate this film ?.....what do you take me for...a $%&* !
  9. MaxB.
    Oct 18, 2002
    10
    A truly intense experice for anyone who loves english gagnster films. Nonstop thrills and wonderfull acting. Not for the weak stomached people.
  10. LarryB.
    Oct 6, 2002
    2
    Systematic, sustained violence, heavily foreshadowed, is the main character in this movie. next comes the unrequited but driving homoeroticism. oh, and don't forget the mysogyny... an excellent example of film as excess enthralled with itself.
  11. ChadS.
    Aug 22, 2002
    8
    Leave grandma at home. When Bettany avenges Freddy Mays(David Thewlis), all that's missing from bloodbath festivities is a little celebratory monkey spanking since killing to the young gangster is a surrogate for sex. This scene will go down in the annals of crime movies. It's disgusting, but undeniably exciting like much of this film, which will be problematic for those who Leave grandma at home. When Bettany avenges Freddy Mays(David Thewlis), all that's missing from bloodbath festivities is a little celebratory monkey spanking since killing to the young gangster is a surrogate for sex. This scene will go down in the annals of crime movies. It's disgusting, but undeniably exciting like much of this film, which will be problematic for those who like their violence anaesthetized by baroque cinematography, and its practitioners to have sons who can see heaven. "Gangster No. 1" might be the best crime movie since "Good Fellas". Both films show the transition from an old to new school way of conducting business. It's a toss-up as to who's scarier; Joe Pesci or The Prodigal Roommate. Okay, it's Pesci but Paul Bettany is scary in his own right. He's awesome. And let's welcome Malcolm McDowell back from his own little road to perdition; network television, by giving the finger to Pluto Nash and giving a hand to the king. Long live the king! Expand
  12. SagaBoy
    Jul 1, 2002
    7
    If you think that "Scarface" is one of the best gangster movies of all time and you appreciate the new stylistic genre of Tarrantino and Riche, then go and see Ganger No 1. There is a lot of blood and testosterone generated here and the performances are excellent.
Metascore
60

Mixed or average reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 15
  2. Negative: 2 out of 15
  1. 38
    See it only for Paul Bettany's performance.
  2. A canny, derivative, wildly gruesome portrait of a London sociopath who's the scariest of sadists, in part because he's also a very courtly one.
  3. The movie's key asset is young Bettany as a worthy successor to the "Clockwork Orange" tradition of McDowell. With Bettany, a star is born, even if his character is horrific.