Mean Machine (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

Mean Machine (2002)



Critic Consensus: Despite some genuine wit, this crowd pleaser is filled with too many cliches.

Mean Machine Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Mean Machine is director Barry Skolnick's British spin on the 1974 Burt Reynolds hit The Longest Yard. The film sticks closely to the story line of its predecessor. The main character is a former soccer star, Danny Meehan (former soccer star Vinnie Jones), and the convicts play soccer against the guards, not American football. Matthew Vaughn, who produced Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, also produced this film. After leading the cops on a drunken high-speed chase, and fighting with them, Danny, whose pro career ended when he threw a game, ends up in prison, where he finds a surprising amount of resentment among the other inmates. As a friendly old-timer, Doc (David Kelly) explains, "You had everything they ever dreamed of, and threw it all away." Danny meets Sykes (John Forgeham), the gangster who basically runs the prison. The Governor (David Hemmings) (or warden) asks Danny to coach the guards' soccer team. They already have a coach, head guard Burton (Ralph Brown), who warns Danny to turn the job down. Instead, Danny proposes he organize a prisoners' team to give the guards a practice game. He gets help from Massive (Vas Blackwood), a small, amiable black man who describes his name as "ironic." The psychotic, drooling Nitro (Stephen Walters) makes recruiting difficult by accusing Danny of being a snitch. Things turn around, however, when Danny rescues Massive from a beating by a racist guard. This wins the other prisoners over, and Monk (Jason Statham), a maniacally violent alleged cannibal, becomes the goalkeeper. After a few practices, the team is ready to play the well-trained guards in a brutally dirty match. Every actor had to pass a "soccer audition" before being cast in the film, and they all do their own playing in the match.more
Rating: R (for language and some violence)
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Tracy Keenan Wynn, Charles Fletcher, Andrew Day, Chris Baker
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 16, 2002
Paramount Classics - Official Site


Robbie Gee
as Trojan
Geoff Bell
as Ratchett
David Reid
as Barman
David Cropman
as Second Barman
Tim Perrin
as Policeman
Paul Mari
as Policeman
Nick Moss
as Hayter
Geoff Innocent
as Bald Friend
Joseph Rye
as Walker
Stephen Bent
as Referee
Nevin Saraya
as Prisoners Footballer
Wally Downes
as Prisoner's Physiothe...
Marc Alexander
as Guards' Footballer
Peter Downes
as Guards' Footballer
Paul Fishenden
as Guards' Footballer
Brian Gayles
as Guards' Footballer
Danny Hibert
as Guards' Footballer
Mark Lovell
as Guards' Footballer
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Mean Machine

Critic Reviews for Mean Machine

All Critics (67) | Top Critics (25)

Holds its ground as a mid-budget Hollywood knockoff.

Full Review… | July 20, 2002
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

A likably energetic star vehicle for English sports god Vinnie Jones.

March 14, 2002
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

It's still a hoot, sports cliches, prison movie cliches and all.

March 14, 2002
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Another incomprehensible trash explosion from the Guy Ritchie school of cinematic slugfests.

March 13, 2002
New York Observer
Top Critic

It's mildly entertaining, especially if you find comfort in familiarity. But it's hardly a necessary enterprise.

Full Review… | March 9, 2002
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Dramatically lackluster.

March 8, 2002
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Mean Machine


One of Vinnie Jones early performances where the world had not yet tired of his gritty, cockney, tough guy act. Yet shockingly this movie isn't about Jones being an unstoppable tough guy, it kinda is him being a tough guy though, just not the dialog free tough guy he usually is. In this remake of US movie 'The Longest Yard' Jones plays the main role which does actually require some genuine acting on his part. Not a great deal of course, lets not get carried away here, but some emotion is required and displayed.

The plot is a simple one, Danny Meehan is a top football (soccer) player fallen from grace. Done for match fixing, then caught drink driving, followed by an assault on two police officers. In prison he makes friends and enemies as you would expect, but its the prison guards and warden who are the real problem unsurprisingly. So to fix this solution, Meehan manages to organise himself as a coach for the inmates, so they can have a match against the guards, because that's just what you do in these types of situations. The perfect way to defuse all hostilities amongst everyone, problem solved. I mean honesty...what could go wrong?

I think its pretty obvious not to expect a classy emotional drama here, this isn't award winning stuff. However, I do think its obvious to expect every single tiny prison cliche in the prison movie book. For starters Jones is pretty much playing himself here, when he played professional footie he was of course the tough nut (the Brit footie fans will be well aware of this), and here he plays a tough nut footballer, with a slice of emotion, but essentially its just Vinnie Jones. The prison is your standard British board and lodgings, typically looks a bit old school, almost like going to a boarding school of sorts, not that I know about that. The guards are of course a mean, abusive bunch, the gov is corrupt, and you have the stereotypical array of prisoners. The happy-go-lucky guy, the rasta type guy, the nut job, the psycho, the fat Middle Eastern guy, the wise old Irishman, and the head honcho with his personal enforcers. Needless to say its kinda obvious who does what, who says what, who gets beaten, who gets done in and what happens every step of the way.

The cast are the shining light here though, its like putting a Guy Ritchie flick, a Matthew Vaughn flick and a Nick Love flick in a blender, and this is the result. You have virtually everyone from British comedy, film and drama here, Jason Statham (with more hair!), Danny Dyer, Ralph Brown, Vas Blackwood, Robbie Gee, Geoff Bell, Jason Flemyng and Omid Djalili. You're literately only missing Tamer Hassan, Dexter Fletcher, Frank Harper and Alan Ford for a full house. I don't even have to explain the characters they play, you can pretty much guess, Geof Bell is obviously a nasty guard, Brown is the head warden and the rest are a colourful collection of cockney inmates (what else).

Its the films mood that swings from one extreme to the other and confuses you. Naturally the film isn't a serious drama, but it does have moments of realism that aren't anything to laugh at, nothing horrific or gory, but emotional and at times slightly cold. Again this does tie in with other Brit flicks by the directors I've mentioned, the movie has that edgy, twitchy side to it where you know anything could happen and it could be nasty. Yet at the same time its almost like a farce or spoof at times, with slapstick comedy, some characters are mischievous buffoons. Take Statham's supposed maniac character, he looks the part and for most of the movie you think he will do something violent, but he ends up being part of the comedic relief. On the other hand, one inmate character called Nitro clearly starts off as a bit of comedic relief, but towards the end he becomes a scary, dangerous and intense character. This guy seemed like he belonged in a Daniel Day-Lewis drama.

A definite rollercoaster for your emotions which kinda works at times, ultimately feels very British (duh) and also kinda cheap looking. Nothing special to offer, nothing really new, but it does fit snugly into that now well known British cockney geezer flick genre, made famous by Guy Ritchie. So if you like that kinda thing then I'm sure you'll get a kick outta this (pun intended). It just about does enough to keep engaged...mainly to see Jones acting skills, and maybe the odd cameo by the odd ex-footie players. Bizarrely the director actually tries to portray Jones as some sort of super skilled ex-footie star in this movie, he does realise actual British football fans will probably watch this right?

Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer


This was a role Footballer turned Actor Vinnie Jones was meant to play. Mean Machine is full of known British faces, perhaps topping the film off with Jason Flemyng's banter and commentary of the game.

This is prison polictics versus Team tactics.

Predictable, yet none the less entertaining

Lady D'arbanville

Super Reviewer


A laugh out loud and gritty action-packed good time. A film with an unlikely heart that you wouldnt expect brings out solid entertainment pleasure. Colorful characters, hard hitting action, outragious comedy and a great story. A solid enjoyment that will not let up till the end of this awsome movie. Wickedly entertaining and cool. A field goal of laughs and drama. Vinnie Jones is teriffic. David Kelly is excellent. Jason Statham is wildly intentive and fun.

Al S

Super Reviewer

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