This wartime gangster flick seeks to elevate to the stature of the great Hollywood crime dramas the real East End mobsters whose fall led to the rise of the Kray twins. But its threadbare budget makes it feel more like a VE Day party on the set of Eastenders.
Director Simon Rumley, whose Crowhurst shows he has the chops to make a low-budget true life story that can compete with the glossy, costly version, brings nothing new to the table here. Once Upon A Time In London is a repetitive cycle of broad stereotypical cockney geezers beat seven shades out of each other to a soundtrack of ironic 40s boogie-woogie numbers.
A cast of D-list rent-a-hooligans familiar from the likes of Green Street and Rise Of The Footsoldier do little to breathe much life or complexity into the likes of Jack "Spot" Comer and Mad Frankie Fraser.
To give a sense of the kind of experience you're in for with Once Upon A Time In London: this is the kind of borderline self-parodic London gangster story that's crying out for a role for Vinnie Jones and instead we're stuck with Billericay Town player-manager Jamie O'Hara.