Mean Machine
Gritty realism? The cops actually call Vinnie "sunshine" before sending him to the nick.
dir Barry Skolnick
scr Charlie Fletcher, Chris Baker, Andy Day
with Vinnie Jones, David Hemmings, Jason Statham, Ralph Brown, David Kelly, Sally Phillips, Danny Dyer, Vas Blackwood, Stephen Walters, John Forgeham, Geoff Ball, Jason Flemyng
release UK 26.Dec.01
Paramount
01/UK 1h40

1 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
get ready for injury time You begin worrying when you realise that this is a British remake of the 1974 Burt Reynolds prison flick The Longest Yard, as a vehicle for Vinnie Jones to take the step to leading man status. Well, Jones is fine; but the film bites big time. Danny Meehan (Jones) is a former star football player and captain of England's national team who has fallen from grace and is sent to prison after a drunken brawl. There he meets the insane psycho (Statham), the kindly old-timer (Kelly), the nice dumb guy (Dyer), the brutal head guard (Brown), the crooked warden (Hemmings) and his sex-crazed secretary (Phillips). Among others. Soon he's pressed into coaching the cons in a match against the guards, which takes on World Cup levels of importance.

Ignore Guy Ritchie's name on the executive producer list. Unlike Ritchie, director Skolnick never plays with the genre cliches at all ... he merely recycles them in film that veers wildly between a trite prison drama and a lame footie comedy. I doubt seriously that it could have taken more than about 20 minutes to cut and paste the script together from both kinds of film. It tries to add grit ("You're nicked, sunshine!"), comedy (goofy on-field antics) and emotion (a senseless death), but without any originality or subtlety. It's simply tedious on every level. And the solid cast is left with characters so badly written that they never rise above sketch comedy profiles; only Jones gets to show any depth, and he seems well up to the challenge ... when he finds a better script than this one.
themes, language, violence cert 15tbc 21.Nov.01

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... get ready for injury time "I just have to say that I think you went easy on this film. You say it really bites, but that's just not harsh enough. This is, without doubt, the worst film I have seen this year. I have to admit I saw a version with a temporary music soundtrack, so it wasn't 100% finished, but they must perform some sort of miracle to save this one. The characterisation is poor in the extreme, the dialogue laughable ('For the last 40 minutes of my life sentence I've been free'), and the scene where they all stand round the grave of the old man is something even Ed Wood would throw away. To make matters worse it's directed as if its an entry on Screen Test. It makes Home and Away seem like a cinematic epic. Absolutely, completely, 100% without any doubt one of the biggest mistakes ever made. I think you can take it that I didn't like it." --The Claw, London 17.Dec.01
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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