10/10 stars, classic stuff
Mean Machine (2001)
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10/10 stars, classic stuff
That of the footie worshipping clan that primarily resides within the United Kingdom.
Very much a long way from competing on the same playing field as Aldrich's superior movie, Mean Machine does have enough about it to make it an enjoyable viewing outside of the excellently constructed soccer match that fills out the last third of the piece. But with the film's reputation being far from good, the chance that many others feel the same as me are pretty remote. About as remote as Accrington Stanley winning the English Premiere League one feels.
The problem would seem to lay with the first hour, violence and humour thrust together does not always yield great rewards, and so it be with the wet behind the ears direction from Skolnick. Caught between a tough portrayal of British prison life and outright slapstick, it's an odd bedfellow that Skolnick can't quite get right. And with Guy Ritchie on the sidelines donning the "supervising producer" shirt, one can't help thinking that Ritchie would have made substantially more with the material to hand. But as "I" say, there's enough there for the discerning fan of blood and banter.
Led by the watchable Jones, the cast, outside of the miscast David Hemmings as the Governor, pull out the stops to entertain the terrace faithful. Danny Dyer haters will enjoy him getting knocked about as he plays simpleton Billy Limpet, while Jason Statham is a joy as Monk, a Jock that even the Jocks are afraid of. While also putting in scene stealing shifts of note are Jamie Sives, Vas Blackwood and Omid Djalili. It's no piece of work to rank in the higher echelons of British movies - or sports movies in general for that matter. But in spite of its soggy formula and over reliance on the template film it's working from, it's very funny at times, and if you like soccer? Well the actual match is well worth the wait. 7/10
Footnote: The Longest Yard/Mean Machine was met with another re- imaging in 2005 with Adam Sandler as the disgraced lead protagonist. Proof positive that it's either a formula that many can't resist? Or that it's one that some feel still hasn't yet met its potential?
Even though I may have seen better prison movies, and even some that are similar in plot; the Mean Machine is unmatched in the rather distant, ironical view of the prison world, honoring fair-play and manly virtues. Moreover, I was very happy not to see any homosexual relationships among the prisoners, no matter the actual prison reality. (On the other hand, I liked the bookie, he had a style.)
All in all, I enjoyed this film very much. Do not expect food for thought but rest assured this is not a dumb entertainment either.
But why I watched it in the first place was because I had always enjoyed The Longest Yard with Burt Reynolds, in fact the only flick of his I enjoyed, and was very happy to see a British version of the football classic. I loved the characters, the seamless transition from American football to European football, and the accents. Vinnie Jones gives yet another great performance, and it was nice to see so many characters return from Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels as well as Snatch (great flicks!).
I give this flick 4 1/2 stars, only because it didn't showcase "Monk" enough for my tastes.
While watching the first half of the film, I was so sure that I would not enjoy it. All the roughness and senseless violence put me off completely. However, as soon as the football match kicks in, I was amazed by the way it lifts my spirits. The match occupies 30 minute screen time, but there is not a second of boredom. Instead, it is so mightily engaging and thoroughly intense. It felt as if I was there to experience the match, and just like everyone, I was hoping for the ultimate pride that would last forever. I am truly impressed by the incredible story telling of "Mean Machine".
Plot In A Paragraph: A disgraced former footballer is sent to jail for three years for drunkenly assaulting a police officer. Once there the Warden wants him to train the guards football team, he refuses, after a while he agrees to play in, and coach a team of cons to play the gaurds in a one off match.
Whilst not as enjoyable as the Burt Reynolds version, it is a lot of fun with Jason Statham stealing the show as The Monk!! While Danny Dyer gets a lot of laughs, likewise Vas Blackwood as Massive and David Kelly is touching as Doc.
This film is very good; it involves violence & humour at the same time. It's not for younger viewers due to the language & violence involved in some scenes. I like this film because of its story line & casting.
I would give the film 4 stars out of 5.
Of course, this is one heck of a guy's movie where cheers are for cons, and jeers for their `screws'! Still, it is one British comedy with loads of silly goofs, strengthened by a fantastic soccer game to hold the viewers' interest. Only wish all soccer games do bring equal excitement! This flick is one mean drama that takes the whole cast to kick up laughter! Yep, good old British `tavern' parlance if the viewers have a knack for Cockney accents and slang! I'm not a sport fan, nor am I fond of ruthless and insensible nudging, but I literally behaved like a stadium spectator, guffawing boisterously while watching one team demean another. Each team does have its psychotic players with their crazy antics! Tough charlatans and their power struggle out on the open field!
Blimey! Lots of scenes making my brains rock and belly shake! The erratic `Mambo Jumbo' music score certainly builds up steam. No doubt, I'll have to try to get used to `Irish Eyes Are Smiling' strumming up in samba beat! But overall, the music compilation does well to yank up the moods. The camerawork frequently diminishes my eye-focus in my attempt to catch up with the actions and wit! Just one big soccer field for landscape, but there's enough living action to captivate the eyes! Some cool `aerial' camera-shots too!
But atlas, this is not the sort of film that will present food for thought once it's over. Everything is predictable, as in many sport-flicks. Laugh while events last! And believe that the only credible thing about this movie is the extensity of a corrupted man's gambling woes that goes with sport, as portrayed by the villainous Hemmings!
Of course, there's one learning lesson that gets through this flick: it takes meanness to fight meanness! Surprise? Of course not! What else can one expect from a bunch of toughies, involved in a rough sport and within a sinister environment! Rules, therefore, are meant to be broken and there will be plenty of vicious manipulations up everyone's sleeves! And how each culprit tackles it is a laughing matter! I sure had fun watching this flick
In prison he swiftly brought back to reality and reminded that behind bars, he isn't a footballer and the prisoners and guards haven't forgotten what he did in that England v Germany game. Danny Meehan is then ordered to captain the prisoners in a one off football match against the guards.
The best thing about Mean Machine is the cast, if you have watched other British Films around this time you will recognise so many of the supporting actors from films such as Snatch, Lock Stock, Football Factory. Not to mention, Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham, Danny Dyer, David Kelly & David Hemmings! The cast is fantastic but the characters are even better, it has a great mix of different people, serious one, funny ones, stupid ones & of course the prison nutter(i.e. the Monk!).
The Story is of course predictable, it has many cliché moments & it certainly doesn't offer anything new. But it is entertaining! The first half of the movie has quite a serious feel to it, it moves along very fast & doesn't offer much character development. I didn't really feel like I connected with any of the characters , which is a shame as they were so many unique characters involved! The second half of the story, when they start to train for the football match & the coverage of the football match itself is much more light hearted and funny, there are many laugh out loud moments. The coverage of the football match is absolutely fantastic, the best part of the movie by far. Bob & Bob as the commentators are hilarious; football commentators could take a note out of their book! The way the match is filmed is also perfect, a lot of sports films are let down by the camera angles & the speed of the action but in Mean Machine I feel the director got it spot on. You could really see what was happening and I think this was made easier by Bob & Bob! Overall Mean Machine is an entertaining movie but far from perfect in my eyes. I have seen the Adam Sandler – Longest Yard before seeing this and I think that spoiled it for me, it is basically the same story and I had no surprises whilst watching this. The Second half outshines the first by quite a way in my opinion. I feel like they could have offered more in the first half of the movie, Character development, more tension, make you feel for the characters more. As I said before, the football match was brilliant and hilarious and saved this movie for me. This is certainly worth a watch and is entertaining enough to pass the time.
I haven't seen the original so I can't compare them but I found Mean Machine pretty enjoyable. Vinnie Jones does a good job as Danny Meehan and it's nice to see him in a role where he's not the scary one. I liked the subtle humour as well, from Massive's ironic name to the unpredictable Monk (the crazy "Scot even the Scots are afraid of" - convincingly played by Jason Statham) to the pair of commentators, Bob and Bob at the final match.
The DVD I saw included audio tracks for both the original UK theatrical release and the "domestic" (i.e. American) release. After watching the original, I learned that the American had a few words re-dubbed to make the language easier to understand for these audiences. I then watched the second version and didn't find much of a difference between the two. There were some things that the character Nitro said that were noticeably re-dubbed (which didn't help much considering the way he shouts!) and a few slang terms were changed to more international expressions. I think some reviewers of this film may have been unaware of this and so complained about the more obvious dubbing.
The only one I actually found helpful was when a character says he's in prison "for [an abbreviation]." I didn't catch what he said and the American version replaced the letters with "assault and battery." I found one change a bit puzzling though: Mr. Sykes gives the governor of the prison tips for horse racing, writing letters next to his choices on a newspaper. After losing money on a false winner ("W"), Sykes explains to the governor that "it got smudged in the rain. It says EW: either way." This was changed to "EW: to place." I thought the original was quite clear and the new one no longer matches the letters.
Overall, it's not a bad film. I liked it enough to watch it twice and if you like football/soccer and prison films, there aren't many that combine the two to choose from.
Solid production, solid casting, supporting roles by all. 9/10
You gotta love the MONK!!!!!!!
I can't believe people didn't like this movie, well at first I couldn't get into it, it wasn't capturing my attention, but then after watching it a few times, i loved it. Look out for the characters - the Monk, The 2 game announcers, they make the movie very funny and entertaining.All of the characters were very amusing. Rent these other movies and then watch Mean Machine again and maybe you will appreciate it more. Rent: Snatch Lock, stoke and 2 smoking barrels. The 3 movies have a lot of the same actors in it and they are quite entertaining Watch it again, give it a chance, it is one of mine and my boyfriends favorite movies right now.
It's awful. Wooden acting, tedious dialogue, ridiculous characters. Like an episode of the British sitcom "Porridge" that is trying to be like the film "Scum".
I gave it 30 mins then switched it off.
Then things start going right, Vinnie looks a lot more comfortable and the movie starts to get going and goes from strength to strength with loads of gags and some occasional violence to break things up a bit.
However, what this film is about is Football (Soccer) and what it delivers in so-far as Football action is excellent, I doubt if any film has captured the sport so captivating and also so funny!
I came out of this film happy that I had been well entertained for at least an hour, grit your teeth for the first thirty minutes and then sit back relax and watch some excellent Football action!!!
True, football (Soccer) had replaced American Football, but the story remained the same - how a fallen star gains the respect of those who envy the fact that he had it all and blew it, whilst they never had the chance to be anything other than what they are. Vinnie Jones does a good job of playing 'Danny Meehan', and the supporting cast complements Jones' fallen star - Vas Blackwood, Jason Statham and Jason Fleyming are all convincing as convicts, as well as other SKA Film regulars (you'll recognise them when you see them).
The only (potential) criticism of the film is that one main similarity remains between this version and the original version - what type of film is this? For the first 45 minutes, you could be mistaken for thinking it is a drama. For the last 45 minutes, it may be a comedy. But this in itself is not a strict criticism. Having a varied theme does, on occasion, work in favour of the film - it is versatile enough to allow each character to develop and grow on the viewer. Indeed, towards the end of the film you might find yourself cheering for characters you might have despised after the first half-hour of the film.
Overall, a solid update of a film that, despite not offering as much as it possibly could, is definitely entertaining. And if a film manages to entertain a viewer, then it has served its purpose.
One of a couple of remakes of The Longest Yard, this film goes for a straight remake but with a UK setting. Despite it occasionally having a serious edge to it, this is mostly a film about laddish jokes, banter and sports. It could have had interesting subtexts about corruption, the impact of sport on society or the corrupting nature of power/authority but instead it just goes for the lowest denominator every chance it gets. In this way it marks out its territory and its target audience and never really aspires to much beyond this. It is a shame really because it is clearly trying serious things but they just come off as clunky and not developed properly. The effect of this is that it regularly knocks the wind out of the fun aspect that only occasionally gets up a good head of steam.
The cast do the best they can regardless and, in fairness, they do OK. Jones is pretty convincing in most scenes and only struggles when he is called upon to convey emotion or carry the serious stuff. Blackwood is good value in a silly role. Statham nicely sends up his martial arts personae well. The rest of the cast are so-so and fit in with the general so-so level the film is working on but you do have to wonder why Sally Phillips bothered to show up for such a pointless character.
Overall a basic sports comedy. It isn't very funny, doesn't have much of interest and it isn't much cop. At the time I was shattered and just looking for something brainless to fill a bit of down time on that level it worked for me, but only just.