In some ways, the greatest British science-fiction film of the 1980s was The Long Good Friday, a gangster thriller set in a version of London that still feels futuristic some thirty-five years later. Opening with a thrilling extended montage sequence depicting what appears to be a set of co-ordinated killings, the narrative gradually – very gradually – centres in on Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins), a London crimelord who has chosen Good Friday to introduce an American investor to his plans for a Docklandsesque housing development designed to stimulate cashflow into the capital. Accompanied by his aide, Victoria (Helen Mirren), Harold introduces himself first and foremost as a neo-imperialist gangster, determined to helm “the decade in which London will become Europe’s capital once again," as he unfolds a business strategy for reinvesting London with the technologial sublime it commanded during the Golden Age of Empire, with most of the key negotiations taking place on a luxury liner that seems to reclaim the Thames as the gateway to the world before the deal has even been done. As that might suggest, London is very much the main character in the film, as John Mackenzie sketches out a city that feels almost entirely extrapolated from Heathrow and devoid of anything resembling an urban core, the world city glimpsed but never properly consummated during the actual Age of Empire. Inhabited or at least propelled by a demotic criminal underclass, the film plays out in the space between the proletarian earthiness that launched Hoskins’ screen persona and a synthetic, propulsive, histrionic score that often makes it feel like a precursor to Guy Ritchie’s kitchen-synth dramas or, more distantly, the millenial London of Sherlock, even as it surpasses both. If you could imagine an expansion to Fallout set in London, it would probably look a bit like Mackenzie’s Savoy Grill, as we alternate between dense narrative clusters and synthetic montage sequences that are crystal-clear in their production but more opaque at the same time, a hyper-London that commands your attention only to deflect it into each new sensation. The result is a synthetic gaze that’s initially and then pervasively associated with gay cruising, sending a diffuse homoerotic ripple through the film that situates every encounter between men in the breathless space between cruises, as Harold starts to realise that some shadowy entity has started to out-surveil him, picking off his crew one at a time as he scrambles to contain the threat while assuring his prospective business partners that nothing is wrong. Of course, something is wrong, and the genius of the film lies partly in the way that Harold's nemesis morphs from a local crime syndicate into the IRA, as what seems like a petty vendetta gradually discloses itself a more amorphous terrorist presence, challenging Harold for supremacy over the coal face of globalisation even as its own attacks become ever more specific, targeted and localised. And in his ballooning elasticisation of a simulacral London that has eclipsed the actual city, his elaborate networks of surveillance and counter-surveillance, and his nocturnal synthesized noir, Mackenzie finally offers something of a counterpoint and complement to Ridley Scott’s globalised Los Angeles in Blade Runner, except that in this case the future is already present in the present, which is perhaps why it still feels like the future in our present as well.