The Firm (Blu-ray)

Dom (McNab) is bored. “There’s gotta be more to life than breakdancing and fingering your sister,” he says to his best friend Terry (Seymour). “You fingered my sister?!” says Terry. Dom’s way out of boredom is to start hanging out with Bex (Anderson), the main man in West Ham’s ‘firm’, the self-proclaimed top football hooligans in the country.

This early exchange between Dom and Terry sets the tone for 90 minutes of coarse humour and ’80s nostalgia. Adapted from Alan Clarke’s 1989 TV movie of the same name, Nick Love (who also made The Football Factory on a similar subject) has glammed up the era to the max, with a pumping disco soundtrack while the brightly coloured sportswear of the casuals scene almost becomes a character in its own right.

For although superficially about hooliganism (and patently nothing to do with football at all), this is essentially a story about growing up. Unfortunately, it’s a story we’ve seen time and time again and is therefore wholly predictable. Boy has dull life with lifelong pal; boy ditches pal for glamorous new life with dangerous thug; boy wants to get out when things get too hairy in the violent underworld; boy returns to normal life and gets back together with pal. It’s not just because this is a remake either – all football hooliganism films seem to follow the same basic premise.

Another problem with a film of this ilk is that while Paul Anderson and Calum McNab are excellent in their roles as Bex and Dom, the characters come across as clichéd. Even if there are (or were) people like Bex and Yeti, we’ve seen so much swearing and macho posturing like it before, they now seem like caricatures. So while the script is laugh out loud funny at times and the violence suitably shocking, overall there’s nothing much new here.

EXTRAS *** An audio commentary with director Love; a 25-minute making-of featurette; ddeleted scenes; an alternate ending; and four other featurettes:  Anatomy of a Fight Scene; Being an Extra; Typography; and Web Videos.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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