Running Time: 99 mins
Though many have tried, there are not many sporting stars who have made it in the movies. Vinnie Jones, the former Wimbledon football club great, has been co-starring in several films of late and now has made top billing in Mean Machine. This film is a remake of "The Longest Yard" of 1974.
Danny Meehan (Jones) has sporting fame, money, women and fast cars. He also has a serious drinking problem and 'anger management issues' which land him in prison. Inside, the Governor (David Hemmings) tells Meehan to organise a soccer match between the guards and the inmates. There are scores to settle on and off the pitch, reputations to be made and broken.
Along with Greenfingers last year, this is the second British film to deal with life in prison. Both of them present a more humanised face of the hardened criminals doing time. Unfortunately, in a poor casting choice, both films have Irish actor David Kelly playing the same old-wisdom-figure inmate who dies towards the end of the film.
The main problem with Mean Machine is that it can't decide if it wants to be a social drama or a jailhouse comedy. The mix of both is not at all convincing. There are several brutal scenes involving prison violence leavened with every football gag imaginable. The juxtaposition of the two does not do justice to the human issues in the drama or the black humour inside the big house.
The overly long soccer match scene is flat and dull and the match's result will not surprise anyone. The brightest spot in the Mean Machine is its star. Vinnie Jones has screen charisma and deserves success for his tough guy roles.
Richard Leonard SJ