From the director of Hooligan: Legacy, and Undercover Hooligan comes Hooligan Escape: The Russian Job, a film not connected with the two titles I have just mentioned which hits all formats very soon. Whilst the poster quote from The Sunday Sport describes the film as ‘The Grittiest British Film of the Year’ and I might disagree with that review, there is still a lot to love in this film. Starting off in France 2016, we see football violence turn fatal when a Russian ‘fan’ is killed, flash forward a couple of years and five British men have been arrested following some trouble with rival Russian fans and after being gassed and kidnapped, the group wake and realize they have been taken from their cells and are now trapped in a derelict warehouse with no way of escape.
Nicholas Winter does a fine job with this tale and perhaps its because I feel that his two previous were so strong, that it would have been hard to keep that high benchmark going. Of course it could also be the fact that lately I think I have seen too many films involving football hooligans who spend the time running around calling each other c*nts and stirring up trouble (but in the cinematic world, this is what football hooligans do), but lets just flip that negative to a positive. One of the characters (Davie, played by Charlie Wernham’ Ashes to Ashes, Hollyoaks) was so annoying that I felt he ruined the film for me in his scenes, however that does actually mean that Charlie played the role so well that his character genuinely wound me up- so great work Charlie. We often forget that if a character gets under our skin on a film or show, that this means the actor behind the mask (so to speak) is giving a stellar performance. The other stand out performance for me was Ali Bastion (TVs The Bill) as Veronika, a character that knows more than she’s letting on.
The film does have a lot of the ‘stereotypical’ Russian things in it, Vodka, AK-47’s men called Boris, big bears and very angry Russians who are more like rampaging Vikings, but there is nothing wrong with having film stereotypes on a story, if there was something wrong then the Fast and The Furious franchise wouldn’t be the success that it was, now would it.
But its not all slightly negative, Hooligan Escape does a great job with its locations, especially the warehouse location where a very large part of the film is set and the cast must have had a blast going through the script and some of the set pieces of the tale, it also does a fine job with its casting with a wonderful mix of talent and I genuinely think that because I’m’ not a football fan and I watch as many films as I do, I didn’t enjoy the film as much as I hoped I would. But that’s more a personal thing than a film ‘critic’ thing (I have the word critic, but at this time of the morning I couldn’t think of another word’
Is it worth checking out Hooligan Legacy: The Russian Job, well of course it is. Nicholas Winter is a great fun director who is worth keeping an eye on and whilst I do prefer Hooligan Legacy, and Undercover Hooligan, this one is still worth checking out if you want to put your feet up and watch a fun mix of characters getting into trouble.
Nicholas Winter is currently in post production on Robin Hood:The Rebellion featuring Brian Blessed.