Burt Reynolds’ The Longest Yard is one of my favorite movies, and Mean Machine is almost as good. This British soccer version, starring former EPL player Vinnie Jones, stays pretty close to the original story.
The entire supporting cast put in solid performances, and the film is well-edited by Eddie Hamilton (Kick-Ass and X-Men 1st Class). What’s surprising is why this first feature film starring role did not do more for Vinnie’s career as a leading man.
Soccer is well-portrayed in this movie, and there is a lot of it. The dirty fouls of the guards vs cons game are very funny because they are so over-the-top (I hope so, anyway). Don’t teach your kids the demonstrated 20+ ways to maim an opponent, which Coach Vinnie demonstrates on hapless Danny Dyer.
How the actors got their breaks
This was Danny Dyer’s first of many soccer movies and TV episodes; it established his typecast career in football moviedom, much like Vinnie Jones got typecast as a soccer coach or thug.
Jason Statham plays the bald crazed bare-hands murderer role, except he is the team’s goalkeeper. Jason Flemyng is the game announcer. I wondered why these two had such small roles in this film. But when I researched their CVs, I learned that the careers of Statham, Flemyng, and Jones were all launched in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels a few years earlier, followed by Snatch.
Ritchie is listed as an exec producer on Mean Machine. So it appears they all like working together. Interestingly, Statham and Jones had no acting experience before Ritchie recruited them for his movie. Statham had been a street hawker, and Jones had just left the EPL.
Don’t even bother watching Adam Sandler’s recent remake of The Longest Yard.
8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8
- Release Date: 2001-12-26 (UK)
- Director: Barry Skolnick