Lock up your mugs and chain down your slags, for something proper naughty is on the horizon. Danny Dyer, the UK’s surliest and most unlikely national treasure, is making another film with Nick Love.
They said it wouldn’t happen. They said it couldn’t happen. They definitely thought it shouldn’t happen. But despite everything, here it is: next month, Dyer and Love will start production on a film called Marching Powder.
Billed as a “thrilling dark comedy”, Marching Powder does have a premise, though it reads a bit like someone made a Danny Dyer wordcloud and then randomly plucked the results out of a tombola. Here it is: “Marching Powder follows the story of Jack (Danny Dyer), a middle-aged, drug-taking football hooligan, who is arrested and given six weeks to turn his life around, or else face a long spell in prison.”
Obviously by this point you will already have made up your mind whether or not you’re going to watch Marching Powder. In fact your mind was made up as soon as you saw the names “Danny Dyer” and “Nick Love” in the same sentence, because the pair have form. The four movies that Dyer and Love made in the noughties – Goodbye Charlie Bright, The Football Factory, The Business and Outlaw – were all in the vanguard of lairy, geezerish, low-budget, post-Guy Ritchie British film-making. They were the sort of films in which everyone’s either a gangster or a mug, all of them are on coke, and women are afterthoughts. They were the sort of films that owed their lives to DVD sales and sympathetic reviews in Nuts magazine. And the people who loved them genuinely loved them.
Obviously the world has moved on since then. Nuts magazine doesn’t exist any more, the DVD market has been obliterated by streaming and Dyer has somehow become the country’s favourite grumpy uncle. This last one seemed hugely unlikely back when Dyer was making Nick Love films, when he was positioned somewhere between “tabloid joke” and “national threat”. He presented dimwitted documentaries about aliens and prisoners just for the money, puffing out his chest like a toddler trying to impersonate Liam Gallagher. He put his name to a magazine advice column that espoused cutting womens’ faces to keep them in line. He made terrible film after terrible film, squandering his talent in a dingy quest for the next paycheque.
Not that you’d guess any of that now because in the last few years Dyer has mounted an incredible career resurrection. He stopped making films and took a job on EastEnders, introducing himself to his largest audience yet by playing what was essentially a cuddlier version of Danny Dyer. He not only appeared on Who Do You Think You Are, but made such a definitive episode of Who Do You Think You Are that every subsequent episode felt slightly hollow and inessential by comparison. So beloved did he become that he could even win people over by ranting on live television, such as the time he called David Cameron a twat on Good Morning Britain.
And so, given all the gains he has made in recent years, it’s strange that he has taken such a deliberate backwards step. That is unless Marching Powder ends up being a smart, self-aware reflection of where Dyer is in his life now. Maybe if it ends up being something like JCVD, the film in which Jean-Claude Van Damme openly took stock of his life and all his bad decisions in a wry, meta, weirdly moving story of redemption, then the existence of Marching Powder will make some amount of sense.
But maybe we shouldn’t hold our breath. Speaking about the new film, Dyer said: “I’m buzzing to be getting back on the horse with Nick, he’s the only fucking idiot stupid enough. Marching Powder is class, we’re back in the world of The Football Factory with more violence, more drugs and lots of fucking comedy, you’re going to love it.”
Business as usual then. Marching Powder is coming, and it will properly do the nuts of all who are interested. May God help us all.