The Football Factory - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Football Factory Reviews

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½ April 19, 2018
Quite boring for a film about hooligans. This is what it's about right? The plot is so random I'm not so sure about what to think.
December 22, 2016
An extremely poor adaptation of John King's excellent novel. The version that got released is not a patch on the "snide version". The opening scene with Oasis - Supersonic works so much better and the finale with The Cure - Fascination Street is used excellently. It is worth watching for Frank Harper but overall slightly better than all the wank hooligan films that get released.
October 3, 2016
Green Street Hooligans got nothing on this one mate
September 27, 2016
Good movie. Hooligans are bad, but the film was interesting.
February 29, 2016
On the surface, Take the Lead and The Football Factory may have little in common. One is a film about a teacher trying to reach underachieving pupils through ballroom dancing, and the other is a laddy, meat-headed snapshot of football hooliganism. But they do share one key similarity which hobbles them - namely that they are a perfect storm of two or more sub-genres which are old as dirt.

Where Take the Lead had to contend with being somewhere between Step Up and Blackboard Jungle, The Football Factory is trying at once to be a sports film, a gritty drama and in places a dark comedy. It has one foot in the vile excesses of Green Street while aspiring to be like Shallow Grave or Dead Man's Shoes. But while there is a great deal in this film which will send polite, middle-class film reviewers running for the hills in despair, it is at least more watchable and marginally more ambitious than many of the others in its company.

The central problem with many films about football hooliganism is that they end up glorifying the very thing they are supposed to be attacking. Green Street is by far the worst offender, trying to make out that targeted acts of violence along tribal lines can be noble, and that the mob mentality of hooligans can be justified by calling it an essential feature of masculine friendship. But even films which don't go out of their way to be sympathetic with brain-dead fascist louts can get so deep into the mythology of their subjects that their moral standard disappears (Rise of the Foot Soldier being a good example).

Being a relatively early entry in this unfortunate little canon, The Football Factory isn't guilty of this to the same extent. It's a far more conflcited animal, whose moments of genuine effort are balanced or occasionally outweighed by lowest common denominator rubbish. Director Nick Love devotes so much attention to the central character's clouded state of mind that you want to give him credit for digging beneath the surface. But equally you get the sense - no matter what his protestations to the contrary - that he likes the people he is depicting far more than would be considered healthy.

It's fitting, then, that the very best thing about The Football Factory is something which is given a fair deal of screen time but ultimately overlooked. In amongst all the laddish humour, the violence, the swearing and the self-abuse, we have the rather sad sub-plot about two elderly war veterans dreaming of a better life in Australia. If you gamely wade through the smokescreen of racist chanting and heartless vapidity espoused by the younger men around them, you find two men who are lost in a country and a culture which they fought for but no longer recognise.

There's a comparison to be made here with Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Parade's End, based on Ford Madox Ford's seemingly unfilmable tetralogy of novels. The main protagonist, Christopher Tietjens, states at one point that "England was the foundation of order... before money took over, and handed the country to the swindlers and schemers." Tietjens and our elderly duo are separated by class and almost a century of time, but they both reflect the sense of being out of one's own time, watching the world slip away with no means of stopping it. The gradual shift from laughter and hope to sadness and despair is well-handled, with just the right amount of pathos, so that you are left wishing that the whole film had been about them, and feeling perplexed as to why this wasn't the case.

In the absence of this, we are left to contend with our central character, played by Danny Dyer. Dyer may be a laughable figure these days, with his lack of general acting ability and a series of bad decisions on- and off-screen seeming to have caught up with him. But in this early part of his career, in the years surrounding Mean Machine, he was at least innocuously bad. We completely believe him when he's playing it up in the macho, vacuous, hedonistic sequences, but he doesn't have the emotional range to convince us of the character's downward spiral.

In more solid hands, Tommy's epiphany and subsequent struggle could have been better handled. The ingredients that Love puts on screen are all pretty decent on their own, and there are individual scenes or moments when they come together. Spooky children were a staple of horror long before Don't Look Now, but watching Tommy's premonitions of the young child, you get the sense that Love appreciates what Nicolas Roeg was trying to do (or, at the very least, that he watched it). The dream sequences aren't as nighmarish as they could have been, and Tommy's character disintegration is hardly the stuff of Bad Lieutenant, but somewhere in there, there is at least the desire to tell a slightly more complicated story.

The other strength of The Football Factory is that it doesn't pull punches in its more physical scenes. During an interview for his later film The Firm, Love said that he resisted the urge to use slow-motion in the fight scenes because he wanted them to feel as realistic as possible. There's still the question about who, if anyone we should be rooting for in these scenes, and the moral implications that this may have, but purely from a technical standpoint the fight scenes are visceral and engaging. Love captures the nauseating claustrophobia of gangs, the feeling of being unable to escape and testosterone taking over until it blinds people to the consequences of their actions.

These moments or aspects are things to which you can point in defence of The Football Factory. But there are still a great deal of problems with it, either in filmmaking terms or in terms of the culture it represents and the stereotypes which it entrenches. It's no coincidence that both this and Love's subsequent films have been most highly praised by so-called lad mags, a bottomless pit of bad taste, misogyny and small-mindedness whose grasp on quality filmmaking is non-existent. This is a film that appeals to people on a visceral level, rather than a cerebral one, and that's fine. But there's a difference between accepting that thinking isn't the main priority and actively encouraging people not to think, and Love can't really tell the difference.

But what's arguably more offensive than its shallowness, and more problematic, is the reductionist approach it has to working-class British life. The characters are all geezery stereotypes, exaggerated beyond caricature to the point where you begin to wonder whether it's meant to be a wacky comedy. Not only does it demean football fans by depicting this kind of behaviour as normal or natural in men of a certain age, it demeans people from humble backgrounds by arguing that their entire existence can be reduced down to narrow-minded bigotry and casual violence.

The Football Factory is a deeply flawed film which can be recommended purely by virtue of not being as bad as other films in the same vein. There are moments when Love demonstrates his skill as a director, dishing up fight scenes which are visceral and well-shot, and giving us some pathos in the scenes with the older men. But the rest is far too lazy, shoddy, retrograde and stupid to really cut the mustard. It may be Citizen Kane in comparison to Green Street, but that honestly isn't saying very much.
jamrcla
Super Reviewer
½ February 28, 2016
A good take on English football firms, The plot was abit weird, Not as many fights as I hoped for and focuses more on the firm members than the fights but with a good believable cast and some humour thrown in it ends up being a really good british hooligan film.
½ November 24, 2015
As a massive football fan (Stoke) and an Englishman, I can totally relate to this movie and I love it.
½ October 7, 2015
The constant narrative shatters any chance for immersion, and clunky and unnatural dialogue makes already dislikeable characters even more difficult to relate to.
September 21, 2015
This film is about british football hooliganism it is a lot closer to realism than Green Street. Danny Dyer at his best.
Super Reviewer
½ July 30, 2015
Based loosely on a novel and directed by Millwall supporter Nick Love who clearly enjoys hard British gangs and fights you start to wonder if he participated in things like these himself. Basically this film is about football hooligans which belong to 'Firms' and enjoy nothing better than to beat the crap out of each other every weekend, whatever your poison I guess.

The film is actually pretty decent and does keep you glued to the screen as opposing firms clash, lets be honest here there is nothing else on offer really, you know its about footie hooligans and you just wanna watch them fight, this film mainly follows Millwall and Chelsea.
The plot is reasonably interesting as it follows Danny Dyer and his moral dilemma of whether or not to continue being in a firm, nothing amazingly original and not too hard to predict either but like I said you watch the film for the violence period.

You know what your getting with this so for a footie hooligan flick its probably the best out there with a good cast of your regular cockney lads. Doesn't paint a very good picture of England lets be honest but truth be told we're just a bunch of hardnuts.
October 20, 2014
By the time the credits roll it leaves you wondering 'what exactly were they trying to say?' Almost appears to be glamorising the element of fans that the game's authorities have spent so much time and effort trying to eradicate. Still, the touches of humour make this watchable. Worth it for the scene with two old boys and the cabbie alone.
½ August 29, 2014
Worst. Movie. Ever.
Pointless. Stupid. Disgusting.
Made me hate fanatical sports fans even more.
½ August 7, 2014
Utter wank, you fahkin' cahnts!
½ May 1, 2014
Not a classic, some good things. But please read the novel by John King instead.
½ February 19, 2014
Made bearable by a blackly humorous streak and a couple of good performances, this cuss-filled slice of English self-loathing will appeal to a certain stratum of young male viewer but has little else going for it, either as cinema or drama, to score many goals with broader auds.
January 14, 2014
Tough film. Both in therms of the plot's heaviness and the language. Hard to believe that there is a separate world like this in London (even if only half of it is true).
December 18, 2013
a wannabe Green Street. Malcolm isn't a hooligan. Nor will he ever will be.
½ July 29, 2013
Filmmaker Love brings these characters to vivid life, but they're all so hateful, racist and idiotic that we don't like them at all!
May 31, 2013
Not bad at all... Beats Green street.
Recommended.
½ May 28, 2013
An average addition to the football firm genre. Not particularly memorable, but filled with violence and british thuggery.
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