If you like British crime movies, you will like Mean Machine. Produced by none other than Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch) and featuring some of the same actors, it’s an entertaining sports movie set in a prison. And if you like football or soccer as Americans call it, well then you’re in for a treat.
You get these kinds of movies from time to time, and this is the British version of an American movie called The Longest Yard. Actually, that original movie from 1974 starring Burt Reynolds has been remade three fucking times. There’s a decent comedy from 2005 starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock and finally, 2015 Egyptian film Captain Masr.
To make things even more interesting, there’s a fourth movie, released 12 years before the original American movie. The 1962 Hungarian movie is titled Two Half Times in Hell and is based on real events that took place in occupied Ukraine during the Second World War. On August 6, 1942, FC Start (city Bread Factory No.1 workers) played the German team Flakelf. If you want to know more about this match and these movies, check out the info section below, but now we have to get back to the movie at hand.
Mean Machine is truly a British version of the American sports epic. The main role has been reserved for Vinnie Fucking Jones! He was a professional footballer and one of the most violent and brutal midfielders to ever play in English football. Just type in his name on YouTube and see what happens. We should also mention Jason Statham, Jason Flemyng and Danny Dyer of his Football Factory fame.
This might have narrowed down the audience with an overly British vibe, but in the end, it turned out that this was the right move. This is above all, an entertaining flick with interesting and cool characters, so don’t expect any deeper messages. Set in prison and featuring a sport, it also hit those two niches, highly popular among men.
Danny “The Mean Machine” Meehan has fallen on some hard times. Once famous for his football skills, he showed great potential, but just couldn’t keep calm. After he was accused of fixing a match between England and Germany, poor Danny ends up in prison. There, he will be offered to coach the football team comprised of inmates. Danny accepts but with one condition: they should play a game against the guards of the prison.
The pacing of this movie is kinda strange. The first half is a bit wobbly, with young director Barry Skolnick still trying to find his style. In the second half things improve immensely, especially when the actual football game starts. Mean Machine is also a very funny movie with jokes, friendly and not-so-friendly banter adding even more to the atmosphere. There’s even some slapstick humor, something that I wasn’t expecting from a prison movie.
Director: Barry Skolnick
Writers: Tracy Keenan Wynn, Charlie Fletcher, Chris Baker, Andrew Day
Cast: Vinnie Jones, Danny Dyer, Jason Statham, David Kelly, Vas Blackwood, John Forgeham
Fun Facts: Two top billed actors were professional athletes before starting their acting careers. Vinnie Jones was an accomplished British footballer, playing on various teams. He earned a reputation as a, “Hard man”, for his aggressive playing style. Jason Statham was a British National Team diver, finishing 12th in the 1992 world championship.