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Three Day Millionaire 2023 Movie Review
It is fairly unusual for a film to change genre mid-flow and Paul Stephenson and Jack Spring’s Three Day Millionaire coming to digital download this week, has one of the biggest tone switches you’ll see. What begins as a swaggering lads movie in the Guy Ritchie tradition slowly becomes a rom com. But then Stephenson and Sping’s film is one that accepts the process of change, celebrating Grimsby’s fishing industry of old but finding a way through the narrative to embrace its quite different future.
Set for a weekend of riotous excess, a group of ‘three day millionaires’ look forward to blowing their meagre pay packed. Instead, they discover their firm has double-crossed them and plan an office heist to take from the business before it takes from them. But with girlfriends and love interests to impress, this foolhardy mission might cost them far more than their jobs.
Three Day Millionaire opens with a sinking feeling, the UK gangster movie-style character introductions from a decade ago, lots of babble about drink and drugs, and a sense that we have seen all of this oh so many, many times before, mostly before women were allowed to be real characters and wear weather-appropriate costumes. As the swaggering male group of friends tick off references to Trainspotting and almost anything pre-2016 starring Danny Dyer, it seems like Stephenson’s story is heading for a bland rehash.
But the writer eventually starts to win you over with the heist plot, looking far more at the potential consequences for the people of the town and particularly the existing and budding monogamous relationships of the men. Out go the flashy camera techniques, replaced by more intimate storytelling about a group of characters feeling betrayed that has far less masculine postering and bluster than the opener suggested, creating room to understand and even sympathise with their plight before wrapping up the romantic entanglements and overcoming the traditional ‘hurdles’.
The cast do well enough with the material they have with Stephenson giving the male characters some sensitivity and depth beyond the surface, so James Burrows as Curly, Jonas Armstrong as Mr Graham and Sam Glenn as Budgie get to explore other emotions and the team dynamic. The female characters are still relatively thin including the office assistant who tries to stop them and Melissa Batchelor’s generic shouty-but-heart-of-gold girlfriend of one of the lads, but they do have whole scenes to themselves and plot agency, so that’s progress for a film like this.
The jokey concept of the ‘three day millionaire’ and how they develop across the story is well managed and largely convincing even if it is still framed in some very well-worn tropes. But it is the reflection on and openness to Grimsby’s changing face and how this mirrors the characters’ growth that is the most surprising, so maybe there is hope for this genre after all.