Add a Review

  • Youth crime and drugs are rife in London. Scotland Yard call in an advisor from the DEA because they believe a new force is in play within the underworld. Harris arrives in London to find nothing different from the LA he just left and begins to make links with Chris who seems to offer the only way into the gangs.

    The story may not be anything to write home about, but this film was a good introduction to the ability (if questionable script judgement) of Danny Cannon. The story makes a lot of leaps as Harris tries to shut down the American influence in the drug game. However many subplots are weak or totally incidental and just seem there to make up the time. The main story itself is a little too glossy and is a times just an excuse for Cannon's direction.

    Cannon directs well here – London looks good, whether it's the dark alleys or the sun setting over the cityscape. He can't really work well with character but he can do visuals pretty well.

    Another reviewer has commented on the `unknown' cast – however there are no more `unknowns' in this than in anything else. Keitel is good despite having the whole family subplot that he clearly doesn't know what to do with and he doesn't do as much with his exploitation of Chris as he could have – but he's always watchable. Kelly is good as the young Chris – but the emotion towards the end is a little beyond him. The rest of the cast is fully of unknowns is it? Thandie Newton? Viggo Mortensen? Keith Allen? A host of faces from British TV and films? All are pretty good although some have more to do than others.

    Overall the plot may not be totally together but a good strong lead by Keitel and a good bit of direction by Cannon makes this feel better than it actually is.
  • There's a couple of stories (possibly apocryphal) about how Cannon's career was launched, one story is that respected film Director Alan Parker, saw a short film he made on a BBC amateur film-making programme and, impressed with what he saw, immediately phoned the BBC so he could get in touch with Cannon - which he apparently did, Parker then supposedly recommended him to a prestigious film school...

    The other story is that Danny Cannon's father is a top studio executive and that nepotism was the way he started.

    Either way, Cannon's debut film was an interesting little movie with big aspirations - at the time British films tended to be almost always socio-political, so-called worthy films, usually about the social underclass - remember this was 1993 and just before Richard Curtis invented the Britsh Rom-Com...

    What the film lacks in terms of story (Cannon was Co-Writer) it makes up for in sheer film-making skill - The Young Americans is a beautiful-looking movie.

    It's a film that belies it's VERY low-budget, and looks like a much more expensive piece.

    Danny Cannon displays an almost Ridley Scott like style in the care he takes with the look of the film, and the careful, unhurried pacing, he is aided in his efforts by excellent Anamorphic 2.35:1 photography from D.P. Vernon Layton - giving The Young Americans a rich, almost sumptuous look, for what, on the surface, is a gritty urban crime thriller.

    A special mention should be made for Composer David Arnold and his beautiful, almost tragic Music Score - of course he went on to bigger things: Stargate, Independence Day, the Bond movies - Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, plus Zoolander, Changing Lanes, The Stepford Wives and the upcoming Ghost Rider, and another Bond - Casino Royale.

    Personally, I thought Danny Cannon's career might have amounted to something more substantial that just 3 feature films.

    These films include the badly mis-judged(!) Stallone vehicle Judge Dredd and the horror sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer - not sure how the latter film fared at the box-office (though I suspect not good!)

    I DO know that Judge Dredd was a BIG financial and critical failure - Cannon got the film right after The Young Americans, tiny budget to mega budget - could this be a case of Cannon running before he could walk?

    Of course Danny Cannon has found considerable success as an Executive/Supervising Producer, occasional Writer and sometimes Director on the 3 hit CSI TV series from Jerry Bruckhiemer - this in itself is no mean feat, but I do feel Cannon's potential as a Director of Feature Films has gone largely untapped and that he could have made a more substantial career if he'd stayed in Movies.

    Hear he's got a Soccer movie in the works, let's hopes that this is a return to features for an underrated and talented Director.

  • There's hardly a smile to be found in this dark, brooding, oppressively heavy drama which tells of an American DEA agent (Keitel) who comes to London to assist in the capture of a drug trafficker as the UK bends under the strain of a virulent drug trade. The camera spends most of the time examining the bleak, grim, and sad expressions of police, innocents, and others caught up in the drug war leaving the plot muddled and somewhat buried in its attempt to show that where drugs are involved there are no winners. A powerfully compelling drama for those who can appreciate the reality of the lose-lose nature of crime.
  • When THE YOUNG AMERICANS was released it was marketed as a cool , tough British thriller . But after watching it the reality is that it`s average at best and is disappointing in many ways , especially its casting , Harvey Keitel as a tough NY cop , Keith Allen as a violent London gangster , wow get ready for some on screen fireworks ! Or rather don`t because these two characters become sidelined halfway through and Chris O`Neill becomes the film`s focus . In truth THE YOUNG AMERICANS is more of a drama with some subtle political comment about the Americanisation of Britain rather than a tough action thriller as it was marketed
  • STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

    With everyone talking about how youth crime and violence has skyrocketed almost to the same level as the States in Britain, this action thriller from over fifteen years ago now looks like a grim prediction from back then, with Harvey Keitel's hardened detective flying over to help stem the drugs/murder problem whilst pursuing a villain he was originally after in the States who he now believes has started to prowl around Europe.

    The film manages a consistently gritty, raw atmosphere, fitting in tone with the story it's telling. Keitel is perfectly cast in the lead role, whilst as the villain in an early role Viggo Mortensen shows potential. Unfortunately, a melodramatic, hammy tendency in parts of the script, as well as an unconvincing turn from Keith Allen as a shady club owner, stop it achieving it's full potential. Still, it's a decent enough effort, forgettable but effective while it lasts. ***
  • I am a tad biased here when writing regarding this film, because I live in London myself.

    I thought that TYA lacked a little in as far as character depth, but never the less I thought the acting was slick and to the point. The photography in this flick really captures parts of London that are rarely seen on film. The underground. The rave at the beginning. The market seen where christian is collecting his wages are so familiar. Keitel again was very good. I especially liked the way he acted around the London police - cool, calm with lack of visual emotion. I guess that at present TYA is quite ironic in some ways as london police are using NY methods to battle crime.

    I liked this film alot, and would give it an eight out of ten based on photography, soundtrack and a cool storyline,
  • 'The Young Americans' was made in the 90s - a quite routine thriller story about an American cop sent to London to follow a drug baron. The theme of cops in foreign territory was largely dealt with before and after this movie, and allowed for some good films to be made. Detective stories, and stories about detectives are a good ground to present culture clash in the context of tense situations. Not here, where the only difference is in the hard spoken accents of the characters, and no real tension or relationship develops around the main character or with respect to his Brit counterparts. Some good acting from Harvey Keitel and the two young actors trying to describe a pure relationship in the trash of the underground world cannot save the day in this rather boring movie, where nothing special happens, not more than in an average BBC police drama.
  • sol-kay4 April 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    ***SPOILER ALERT*** With a number of London's top hoodlums knocked off it's become apparent that a new element of crime is sweeping the city. Young thugs barley out of their teens are being recruited by American drug kingpin Carl Frazer, Viggo Morterser,to enforce his now expanding crime empire.

    After having US government DEA agent John Harris, Harvey Keitel, sent to help the London Police and Scotland Yard in getting to the bottom of the crime wave things go from bad to worse. The two policemen Carver & Carnegie, Geoffrey McGivern & Dave Duffy, that are to work with Harris end up getting themselves killed. It turned that both cops were in the pay of the London underworld and, together with their fellow criminals, were offed by the young hoods working for Frazer.

    Looking for a hook, or inside man, to infiltrate Frazer's drug empire Harris together with his British police partner inspector Glen,Edward Foster, zero in on petty hoodlum Christain O'Nell, Craig Kelly. Chis has been going through a deep depression over the shooting of his friend Lionel Stevens, Nigel Clavzel, at the notorious Temple Nightclub run by homicidal psycho and Frazer front man Jack Doyle, Keith Allen. Lionel's grief stricken sister Rachael, Thandle Norton, who met Chris at the hospital where he brother was being treated soon fall in love with him. This makes Chris even more depressed in not keeping Rachael's brother Lionel away from Doyle, whom he was mouthing off to, who ended up shooting him.

    Keeping his mouth shut about who shot his friend Lionel , so he wouldn't get killed by members of Frazer's "youth squad", Chris' slight involvement, by his being friendly with with some of Frazer's young hoodlums, with the city's illegal drug trade has his father and old time London gangster Dermot, James Duggan, very upset. Dermot starts to make threats against Frazer in that if his son Chris ever ends up working for him he'll do a job on Frazer himself! Not realizing that Frazer means business Dermot's bullet riddled body ends up floating in the River Thames.

    Chris now having his best friend and father ending up victims, together with about two dozen London mobsters, of Frazer's reign of terror decides to go undercover, with a wire, to get the goods on Frazer & Co. for the London Police Department.

    A very subdued looking Harvey Keitel, probably suffering of jet lag, is mostly reduced to a supporting role to who's really the star of the movie young Carig Kelly. Kelly as the misguided and very confused Chris O'Neill has his eyes opened to just how destructive the American gangster Frazer is not only to him but his fellow Londoners in bringing drugs into the city. It soon turned out that Chris going undercover with a recording device wasn't exactly the best way to get Frazer caught with his guard down.

    Being as both slick and slippery as a eel Frazer didn't expose his real intentions knowing, even though he trusted Chris, the tactics that the police, at least back in the states, use to catch hoodlums like himself saying something that will put them behind bars. What struck me a bit odd about the very cautious Frazer was that he used his very base of operations, Doyle's Temple Nightclub, to have his sh*t, or drugs, delivered! This more then anything else that the police and DEA Agent Harris did, unsuccessfully, to catch him turned out to be Frazer's fatal flaw and lead to his, and his criminal youth movement, ultimate downfall.
  • Violent organized crime is overwhelming the ill-prepared London police. Bodies are piling up. American Carl Frazer (Viggo Mortensen) has recruited young men to be violent ruthless thugs. American cop John Harris (Harvey Keitel) arrives to assist the police in catching the bad guys.

    Harvey Keitel is great. Viggo isn't in this enough. There are some good British actors. Thandie Newton plays the girlfriend role. The movie relies on some unknown kids, mostly Craig Kelly. He's a blank fresh-faced newbie. He can't be the leading man in this movie and yet he is. It leaves the movie a bit scattered and hollow in the center. The intensity isn't really up to American standards. This is function TV crime drama... sorta.
  • You HAVE to remember that he made this at a young age and little examples of first class directing shine through. The Cinematrography is also of a high standard. The subject matter is of the dark world of London and what it holds for young Britains. For some enjoyment and a way of living is achieved through working for an American crime lord who has taken to living in London. Our hero has to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of his own father's past and accept a secure life of working for the American or to change tune and try something different. Those who have seen it and enjoyed it should check out his earlier film "Play Dead". It's probably "Young Americans" with more money and more experience
  • You have to watch carefully, wearing ear protectors, to figure out that this film is about a bloody war waged by "young american" drug lords against the old hands in London. There is an American DEA agent to "advise" the London bobbies, but he isn't young. He does have an agenda of his own, but it emerges only obscurely, as does everything else, except the noise. Even the dialog is all but incomprehensible. It's a strange way to tell a story. The editing is of a piece with the rest of the treatment. Confusing. There are pluses, though. The camera work is innovative and often beautiful images emerge from the general murk. The cast, apart from Keitel, were largely unknown to me, but they were mostly first rate at limning the many characters in the London underworld. Many were also uncredited, strange in an era when the post credits usually scroll for at least 7 minutes.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Although the plot may be a familiar one, the fine acting on display here raises this film from the doldrums into being a pretty effective and taut thriller. The ever-dependable Harvey Keitel, who's always a presence whichever film he's in, stars as an American cop who comes to London after chasing a particularly nasty piece of work, a drug dealer. Once in London he discovers that while the city may be different, the crimes and people inhabiting it are the same, from the world-weary cops to the old-time criminals who just want peace to the young thugs who would murder you in the blink of an eye.

    The supporting cast of British actors is packed with familiar faces, and everybody gives a good performance in this film. Particularly affecting is Craig Kelly, who plays a young informant who gets puts in grave danger as the film progresses. Kelly's performance is a realistic and touching one, not least with his believable relationship with a very young-looking Thandie Newton, who of course would go on to appear in many films. Elsewhere, Terence Rigby is also very good as a criminal who wants to help the police get the murderers, and Keith Allen puts in a thoroughly evil performance as a frighteningly nasty piece of work who bumps off those he doesn't like. His comeuppance is well deserved.

    Touching on the seedier side of London, complete with drug-fuelled nightclubs, and murders being committed in dark alleys, this feels very much like a typical American thriller, except that the odd setting makes it perhaps more interesting to watch. Director Danny Cannon mixes in the mystery aspects of the film with some shocking bursts of violence, leading up to the inevitable bloody death-filled finale. What surprises most is that his drama is character-based instead of style-fixated, which is often the case with some of these more recent crime thrillers they're throwing at us. Saying that, there are some good bits of cinematography, including an inspired tracking shot which transforms the London underground into a place of isolation and foreboding like never before! Although THE YOUNG Americans doesn't give much in the way that's new and has an obviously low budget, a good cast and well-sketched, realistic characters give this thriller an added edge over your typical run-of-the-mill fare. Highly recommended.
  • I found myself pausing the movie and then not returning for a couple of days. It was that UN-exciting. The film drags on forever with those "Oh so polite" British cops and that "Is he trying to play a bad cop?" Harvey K. All set in the Oh so boring scenery of what I presume is supposed to be the rough district of London.

    Harvey was a lot better bad cop in "Border".

    The film quickly gets to the point where you don't really care who committed what crime, who killed who, who the real bad guys are, you just want it to be over so you can go in the kitchen and make more nachos.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Sorry SOL but your review is a little inaccurate. First, you call Keith Allens character homicidal and psychotic. Truly he was just a pretentious little prick with a Napoleonic complex trying to be a tough guy. Also, Chris was not a hoodlum. He worked in a bar and hated drugs.

    For my end, I love this movie. I know its not amazing but its got some great lines, so class footage of Arsenal v Man U and as usual Keith Allen is out of his depth and hams it to get through.

    I will agree that there were too many sub plots opened and never explored (Keitels family etc) and the seemingly rushed downfall to Carl Frazer was too easy. However, scenes like the police interviewing Dwayne, and the attempted murder of the old time gangster who proves to be too wily a fox to be taken out like that, combined with great cinematography and likable heroes make this one of my old time faves.
  • Films, no matter low-budget, high-budget, no-budget need to have one essential element to ensure that the time dedicated to the characters, emotions, and themes is not futile. That, singular strong moment, has to be story. Whether it is a horror film, a sci-fi film, or even a Bergman avant-garde film, there needs to be at least a small strain of story carrying the viewer from point A to point B, if that is missing – the entire structure of the film will collapse. Characters you can ignore, emotion can be faked, and the themes can be murky, but without that central story – your film will ultimately be found in the dollar bin at the nearest retail chop shop. Despite Harvey Keitel, Viggo Mortensen, Thandie Newton, and a slew of British accents – that is why "The Young Americans" failed. Absolutely it was a dark crime noir, a family retribution, and a love story, but the story in "The Young Americans" was so weak, that getting to the different point, the different scenes, felt rushed, unfamiliar, and murky. This jumbled, muddled mess of a film boasts cheapness from every angle, but due to the missing story – "The Young Americans" fails to be anything more than a random Harvey Keitel stumble at the store, or a cheap recommendation because you rented "Reservoir Dogs".

    With the sound of raves in the background, the viewer is pulled right into the youth of Britain circa mid-90s. Dance parties, gangs, and late nights plague the screen as groups of genuine unknowns get killed in the night. This should have been an indication of what the remainder of the film would be like, but I trudged onward – and definitely not upward. After the brutal killings, we are swooped into the world of Harvey Keitel, or anti-antagonist (seemingly blending together every cop cliché/genre) John Harris. Brought in to help with a murder, we soon learn that there is a secondary motive in play – something that has to do with a very young, an extremely overacted, Viggo Mortensen. As we jump from one frame to another, one initial drawback are the dark, character building scenes … literally, there is the concept of symbolic lighting to set the tone … but director Danny Cannon used so much darkness some scenes are blank on the screen. Missing more than a fourth of the film, we are forced to follow an unknown path between Keitel, Mortensen, love-interest Thandie Newton, and relative newbie Craig Kelly. It is his story that transfers the power from Keitel, but is equally as unappetizing. After the death of a family member, Kelly's Christian decides to turn against the crew that did it, becoming a powerful tool for Keitel, but the whos, whats, wheres, whens, and whys are never answered – still giving us nothing but quick scenes, literally teleporting us from point A to point B, without reason or consequence.

    As mentioned, the story is the ultimate failure of the film. There were actions made by our characters that did not seem to fit within the realm that Danny Cannon had created, but he continued to push through. Nothing was answered, situations were randomly created, and why was Viggo Mortensen's character so underdeveloped, yet so vital to the story? Who knows. That question became the downtrodden central theme to this film, and a reason why "The Young Americans" will never see success. With our story a clustered mess, how did the rest fair beneath the control of Cannon? Not surprisingly, the British were believable and grounded. The minor characters, perhaps outside of Craig Kelly, felt like real police and the setting (due to extensive British TV watching) felt like Britain 1993, but the influx of the American presence just ruined the rest. Keitel could have been Steven Seagul or JCVD, he was not cunning, nothing brilliant, just an American cop-dislocated and fighting against the shadow of a drug dealer. The entire subplot with his ex-wife was nothing short of embarrassing. Used to build his character, it just felt more like a cheap trick instead of honest emotion. The same can be said with Viggo Mortensen, who with choppy editing by Danny Cannon, never quite developed past the notion of "creepy guy". With a voice that sounded like a Lynch character, an unknown occupation, and a purpose to be in Britain (let's not forget his peculiarity towards young men), Mortensen felt more like a placemat than a villain. On the other side of this film, Newton read her lines well, and Craig Kelly attempted to work around Cannon and David Hilton's catastrophe of a script. It was obvious the actors were found, the script was heavily edited, and the final product was a rushed pile of poorly constructed LEGOs. One flick of your finger, it will all go crumbling down.

    Overall, in case it hasn't been noticed, this was an abomination of a film. From the darkly lit scenes (you have to watch to believe how dark this film was), to the atrocious acting, to the story that went nowhere but somehow ended up at the final credits, "The Young Americans" was a direct to video release for a reason. Shot in 38 days, this film felt rushed and incomplete. Mortensen's character is the one I struggle with the most, as the ending leads us to believe that this was supposed to be a different film than the one we began or watched. There were too many wild-cards (see Jack Doyle) that muddled the main story. It is a murky mess that is easily forgotten and should be avoided. Danny Cannon may have given us "CSI" and "Judge Dredd", but this is an incompetent film that will appeal to nobody and fails miserably.

    Grade: * out of *****
  • The only "young" American in "The Young Americans" is Viggo Mortensen, who was 35 years old. Otherwise we have a middle aged American (Harvey Keitel), a Zambian (Thandie Newton) and a bundle of Brits.

    Harvey Keitel does his usual good job, although in this case he is more polished and less violent than we expect. The film comes out just after his roles in "Reservoir Dogs" (1992), "Bad Lieutenant" (1992), and "The Piano" (1993), all of which won him renewed acclaim and awards. One year later we would shine as the "cleaner" in "Pulp Fiction".

    No one else is around much to talk about their performances. Thandie Newton at 20 is cute as a button, and Viggo Mortensen, though in his mid 30s, does look "young". Neither one of them gives us the quality that we later see for both.

    The photography is excellent, and it's great to get to see sections of London. But the plot is awkward, and the action seems excessive, especially give the British environment. The core of the message is that American crime is seeping into England and the British need to watch out. I think violence in Britain was handled pretty well in "A Clockwork Orange", two decades earlier.

    This was the second film for director Danny Cannon who went on to fame in TV as the producer of a bunch of CSI series as well as Nikita and Gotham.

    It's not a bad film, but there is nothing new or exciting or innovative to recommend it.
  • ionamay4821 January 2004
    Yes folks...yet another sorry disappiontment from Keitel. I loved him in City of Industry, and have searched out more films only to find one disappointment after another. He seems magnetized to mediocre productions. Too bad..he is such a great actor. This movie is about crime in what does the title Young Americans have to do with anything? Lots of contrived frenetic action, but no substance. Well shot, but that didn't keep me from falling asleep again...unfortunately it was still on when I woke up...Watch city of Industry instead...
  • Well, it wasn't that bad of a film. Having collected a dozen or so London crime dramas I must admit while this one had some flaws (low budget)it quite well fits into the genre of the Classic British Crime Drama. The violence and paranoia of the gang leaders, including the American (when he hurts the young women at the party) captures the character of these types (as far as the scene in concerned). I thought the acting was good, the camera work was also interesting and the film kept moving forward to the climax which was still unknown 5 minutes before it took place. The scene with the wedding of Chris's father, where he is drunk and is overheard by the "goon" who immediately "rats" him out was well done. The scenes of the seedier sides of London was also well photographed, the smoke, grim, and age. All in all it was worth watching if you are not expecting something "great" like "Get Carter" or "Snatch".
  • Somehow it seems music directors have a free hand. Over and over I see films and television shows where the music is wrong and being wrong dominates the show. I bought west wing and couldn't watch it as the music was over the top. Sopranos, deadwood starred actors. But lately music seems to rule and often does not fit directors seem to rule. Have they not listened to Max Steiner? He worked with the nuances of the picture. Of late it seems this is grandstanding, showing your chops... want to be a director? Find a script. But goodness gracious stop making the film a vehicle for your score. Watch "White Heat" the music is perfect. It is there in spades, but you don't hear it, you feel it.
  • bbrruuccee716211 January 2008
    The whole plot for this movie is flawed. Drugs are being imported in to the UK via America which is clearly ridiculous. One of the pivotal scenes in the film shows total ignorance of the subject matter .In explanation the "hero" buys drugs from a "friend" it's a set up the friend doesn't want any money . the "hero" repeats "take the money" forcing the cash in to his hand. Anyone with any knowledge of the UK police and/or drug culture will know it is irrelevant if money changes hands all they need to know is that drugs were supplied. The director is obviously enthralled with the U.S.A . Which is why he's there making C.S.I. I hate this film .
  • The movie is just an average cop flick shot in UK setting. The best thing about this movie is that one of Bjork's best songs -- Play Dead -- was featured in the movie. The original music video for this song also featured clips of the movie. The video was actually better than the movie. Check it out if you want to see early footage of Thandie Newton and Viggo Mortenson before they became big stars. Thandie Newtwon especially looks a lot different back then. Most of the other British actors are unrecognizable at least to US viewers. It's worth a look but not that great. The young British guy playing the lead reminds me a lot of River Phoenix.
  • The Young Americans is set in London in the mid 1990s. The plot basically surrounds the London drugs trade and the British Police's crack down on it. Well what could be easier than that? Add Harvey Keitel as an American 'visiting adviser' from the DEA and a few shady characters.

    In whole its not a bad film, its over ten years old now and was obviously low budget! A scene where a Ford Granada explodes it clearly goes bang, and just as well because I doubt they could afford another to do it again.

    Cropping up in the film is a character called Chris who adds the love elements to the movie, played by Craig Kelly, who later finds more TV fame in the UK version of Queer as Folk.

    The annoying thing about this movie is the over acting "British" voice, making Harvey Keitel sound very American and the British officers toffy noised! For a movie made and set in London it is a poor feature.