One Night in Istanbul is a sly sports comedy, masquerading as British farce with an overdose of sentimentality and violence mixed in. I thought America had cornered the market on sports themed dopey comedy-drama crime capers but it appears that the foreign market is just as ripe with these duds. It’s somewhat mystifying that this messy script was concocted from a well-regarded screenplay from playwright Nicky Allt. This is an innocuous movie, which is about the last thing you’d expect when dealing with sports fanaticism, and the mafia. Other movies have covered similar material with a higher energy level and sharper sense of wit than what is presented on-screen here.
Tommy and Gerry are two low-level cab drivers from Liverpool, England. Each man is down on his luck and nursing fractured relationships with their respective children. Their trouble begins when they agree to an un-advantageous deal with a local mobster to travel to Istanbul. This unusual deal allows Tommy and Gerry to attend the European Cup to support their Liverpool football club. Aiming to use the trip as a chance to bond with their sons, complications arise in the form of a beautiful hotel chambermaid, and two brutal Turkish crooks hunting down the men over a stash of counterfeit cash
One Night in Istanbul is a busy little satire. The filmmakers have worked quirky character eccentricities in with culture clashes, the supernatural, Nazi jokes and shady ticket scalpers. I think, buried somewhere in this film’s intention is the same desire to see comedy and criminals intertwined ala Guy Ritchie’s seminal work on pictures like Snatch. The problem is, we’ve been here before. I didn’t find much to differentiate it from other mob-comedies. This movie is pleasant enough, it just never took off or electrified me.
Director: James Marquand
Stars: Steven Waddington, Paul Barber, Lucien Laviscount