In a post-cockney gangster/Guy Ritchie film world, Three Day Millionaire is here to try and fill the void. Written by Paul Stephenson and directed by Jack Spring, Three Day Millionaire follows a “lovable” rogue and fisherman by trade Curly Dean (James Burrows) on his three-day weekend ashore between jobs. The title of the film refers to how the fishermen refer to themselves when they are on shore leave, blowing entire pay cheques in one weekend before disappearing into the ocean’s embrace once more.
The plot of the film is simple. Curly Dean loves his job. Despite the decline of the fishing industry in the Grimsby area, Curly Dean thinks things are on the up. He is positive that Mr. Barr (Colm Meaney), the big boss man, is going to be pumping money into the area to expand the fishing trade and bring Grimsby back to its former glory. Unfortunately, Mr. Barr has other plans and intends on laying everyone off, tearing it all down, and gentrifying the area.
Once Curly gets wind of this from one of Barrs underlings Mr. G (Jonas Armstrong) along with the fact that Barr has a whole load of cash in a safe in his offices, the inevitable heist is on. Along with his trusty mates Budgie (Sam Glen), Codge (Michael Kinsey), and Wheezy (Robbie Gee) they plan to do over the boss, nab the cash and start their own fishing business.
Curly Dean is a posturing wide boy, talking directly to the camera about how brilliant he is and why it’s great to be a trawlerman. Curly also uses his direct line to the viewer to introduce his group of salt-of-the-earth blokes and two-dimensional women that inhabit his self-centered world. Budgie is the stereotypical “useless” fat friend. Bad at his job, a bit simple and sensitive, and in love with a local fish packer called Queenie.
Codge is “the one with a drug problem who talks like a Shakespearean character.” A verbose and manic man completely reliant on his addiction and lying to his girlfriend about being a trawlerman. The truth is his drug habit got him fired but he is too scared to tell her that he no longer works at sea in case she leaves him. When it comes to the women in the film, their characterization is no better.
Gilly (Lauren Foster) is Curly Dean’s love interest and career-minded protégé to Mr. Barr. Despite her protests and outrage at them using her ID to get into the security system, she doesn’t turn them in because she is in love with Curly. Queenie (Grace Long) is a young, starry-eyed girl who lives with her fellow fish-packing mother and seemingly goes everywhere with her. Of course, Queenie is the counterpart to Budgie’s gentle personality. Codge’s long-term girlfriend is Demi (Melissa Batchelor) AKA Pitbull because she’s an aggressive, no-nonsense kind of woman who deep down just wants to get married to Codge. She’s also secretly pregnant.
The heist doesn’t actually begin until about an hour into the 94-minute runtime. The rest of the film is Curly and his mates acting like they own the little seaside town. Despite this, it feels like nothing happens. The same cycle of Curly espousing how incredible it is to be a trawlerman and how important it is for the town’s heritage, Codge looking for drugs, and Budgie trying to woo Queenie continues for an hour. It’s unfortunately all quite flat. There’s no depth to any of these characters, from Budgie’s sex-crazed money-grabbing mum to Codge’s attempt to be Sick Boy from Trainspotting there’s nothing there, no feeling of connection to the people on screen.
The performances themselves are actually very good, which sounds like a contradiction but the cast is excellent with what they are given. Jonas Armstrong is a standout as a weaselly corporate man turning on his boss and the main cast does their parts well, there just isn’t much to work with. Three Day Millionaire is desperate to be a Guy Ritchie film from the early 2000s instead of something in its own right. There is great potential beneath the posturing and attempts at emulation, there just needs to be more personality injected into the characters.