written and directed by Nick Love and released in 2009, is a remake of
the film of the same name from 1988. It tells the story of a young man
by the name of Dominic, who likes dressing sharp and heading out on the
town, but isn’t
too keen on putting in a hard day’s
work with his Dad. But Dom is a good kid at heart; the worst he and his
best mate Terry (Billy Seymour) might get up to is to smoke the odd
joint or yell random abuse at strangers.
turning point is a night out that goes wrong when Terry provokes the
wrath of another nightclub patron, who turns out to be
(Paul Anderson,) the head of the dangerous West Ham football firm.
Bex to try to smooth things over and to prevent the gang targeting his
friends. Dom then follows Bex, hounding him and copying the gang
leader’s every move until he is finally invited to join. It all starts
out as fun: hanging out with his older, funnier new mates, having a
laugh and generally carrying on, but it turns serious when Dom gets
caught up in the bitter feud between two rival hooligan firms.
that strikes you about ‘the firm’ is just how much the sport that these
characters proclaim to support has been sidelined in favour of wanton
violence. The teams that the rival gangs follow are only mentioned a few
times throughout the movie. The sport itself is only depicted once, and
even then only as a grubby back-street training drill that bears little
resemblance to the beautiful game.
motivation is derived solely from elevating his own social standing. He
truly sees hooliganism as a way to raise himself above the masses, to
things turn sour and he is humiliated by the rival firm, his motivation
reverts to something much more basic: revenge.
character leads a double life in this film. On one side he is a
respected real-estate agent with a loving wife and a young son. But when
he steps into those hooligan shoes everything changes. The suit
disappears in favour of a tracksuit, and the haircut changes from
something sleek and sophisticated to a drooping, brutish fringe. It’s a
clever technique on behalf of the film-makers, almost like a Dr Jekyll
and Mr Hyde mechanic.
Anderson puts in a gripping performance as this megalomaniac. The Bex
character is utterly irredeemable and horrible, but he transfixes you in
a way that only the best movie villains can achieve.
Vedder is also good as Bob, Dominic’s
father. He starts out as your typical gruff, daggy suburban Dad, but
this gives way to genuine dismay as he realises the strength of the hold
that the gang has over his son. Vedder’s
loving, protective yet powerless portrayal of the character is very easy
to empathise with.
scenes in which the two mobs clash are confronting and believable. In
these moments the film’s
soundtrack drops away, to be replaced by the angry murmurs and roars of
the approaching gang. Once the fights break out it’s
sheer bedlam, a mix of incomprehensible shouts and jeers. These scenes
were mostly filmed using hand-held cameras, putting you right in the
middle of the chaos.
Audio and Video:
urban setting of ’The Firm’ has been captured in crisp detail on this
Blu-ray. The soundtrack is very sparse, in keeping with the original
film, with bursts of colour provided by pop tracks from the 80’s.
has a very blunt way of telling its story, and a habit of trying to
force us into the appropriate emotional response. While we do grow to
care about these characters, the resolution is less than satisfying.
The individual elements are good: the cinematography,
the performances of the actors, the soundtrack. But somehow as a whole
it doesn’t feel quite complete. Good, but it won’t be everyone’s cup of