"Take note, movie fans: Jason Isaacs in a Lead Role!!"
If this movie is a typical example of British ‘made-for-TV’ productions, they’ve got us Yanks beat hands down. Dangerous Lady is an English mini-series that doesn’t exactly add anything new to the mobster-movie pantheon but it’s a professional and well-crafted pulp tale nonetheless. Based on the novel by Martina Cole, Dangerous Lady centers generally on the Ryans, a ruthless and efficient crime family that succeeds in underworld affairs thanks mainly to the efforts of little sister Maura.It’s 1963, England and young Michael Ryan has worked his way up the criminal ladder to oversee a crew of fiercely protective mobster types. When Michael’s longtime boss threatens to sell the ‘sell out’ to the newly arrived Italians, it’s time for the Ryan boys to take over. Michael and his younger brothers have seemingly no difficulty in running the streets in profitable style, yet all sorts of entanglements arise on a daily basis.
When the only sister in the Ryan clan ends up mistreated by a local policeman (and subsequently, a seamy abortion doc), Michael basically loses his shit. Emotionally scarred and out for blood, Maura demands to join the ‘family business’ – a decision that initially seems like a profitable movie but ultimately proves to incite even more pain and tragedy.
More than just an A to B gangster saga, Dangerous Lady earns points for broaching a few unseemly topics generally ignored by TV productions. (That Michael worked his way up the criminal ladder by way of homosexual favors is a dramatic twist that lends some color to the drama.) The somewhat typical underworld doings are presented in fresh and entertaining fashion, while the more ‘domestic’ moments among this family of thieves prove to be the high points.
Dangerous Lady capably stands as an entertaining crime drama, though it’s one that may have dipped into Dullsville were it not for the two lead performances. Fans of underrated character actor Jason Isaacs (The Patriot, Event Horizon, Black Hawk Down) will find lots to enjoy here, as the actor rarely gets to shine in a lead role – as he easily does here. Susan Lynch (From Hell, Waking Ned Devine) grounds the movie resoundingly well, offering a realistic and tragic woman who grows from victim to aggressor to villain with stunning resolve.
Chancing upon the ‘familial mobster’ angle a few years before HBO’s The Sopranos hit the air, Dangerous Lady isn’t about to replace Goodfellas or The Godfather as anyone’s favorite Mafia flick but fans of the genre should absolutely consider it worthy of a rental.The performances of Isaacs and Lynch make it worth seeing on their own; fortunately the movie’s pretty damn good too.