20 June 2006 | bob the moo
Noisy football drama that operates at the tabloid level but lacks insight, intelligence or finesse
Frankie is a premiership manager of a growing team aiming for a European place this season. His son Martin is a football agent and together they have just engineered the signing of exciting new talent Joel Lamone who at only 16 comes to the club in exchange for as little as £5k a week and a new house for his mother. However when Paul Sheldon, a non-executive director, spots an inconsistency in the charges paid to Martin on a previous transfer it sets the cat among the pigeons and makes Martin nervous. Meanwhile Frankie wants to continue pushing the next deal through to help pay for his big new house.
The world of football fills the tabloid headlines with tales of sexual exploits, criminal activity, corruptions and more. Just a glance at the headlines will show you that there is no end to the big money deals and personal stories that suggests that some of the young players cannot cope with going from earning nothing to earning more in a week than most people do in a year. The love of the game is so great in this country that even things like Dream Team and Footballer's Wives bring in the ratings and I had hoped that this film would rise above that level of tabloid material to be more of a serious look at the subject. Sadly in terms of debate and insight the film is as clever as a long ball to a lanky striker. If corruption within the game were this obvious and in your face even the clueless FA could uncover it. The material never aims higher than painting in broad strokes and as a result it is just noisy fare without a great deal of substance.
Ray Winstone responds in kind with a performance that is unconvincing, noisy and more suited to a "Mike Bassett" type of vehicle than a drama. Maybe if the story had been set in the lower divisions then his character would have been realistic but in the Premiership? Winstone is all shouting and swearing to the point where he seems to be stealing from his Sexy Beast co-star Kingsley. Dyer has too little to do for someone of his talent and everyone else generally has only broad caricatures to work with. Elba is the honest upstanding ex-player; Marsden is the besieged chairman and Hamilton does a reasonable job of quickly going from naïve schoolboy to overpaid sex pest! Overall this is an OK football film but not one with any depth or insight. Viewers who like their sporting dramas simple and soapy should enjoy it partly thanks to Winstone pounding through the film all energy and noise but anyone looking for an intelligent and well-delivered piece on money and corruption in sport can easily find something better than this to watch.