Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Vinnie Jones, David
Kelly, David Hemmings, Vas Blackwood, Jason Flemyng, Danny Dyer, Jason Statham
Director: Barry Skolnick
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Length: 99 Minutes
Release Date: July 16, 2002
“It’s getting tough out there,
“You can say that again, Bob.”
“It’s getting tough out there,
“Never mind, Bob.”
Could the gridiron brutality displayed in Burt Reynolds’
prison football comedy The Longest Yard ever be translated to modern day
Britain with a soccer ball? Yes it can, and the result, Mean Machine, is
a pure cheerful mixture of comedy and brutal violence, adding up to a fun
The makers of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels
and last year’s brilliant Snatch have created another gleeful mix of sharp humor and not too subtle
brutality, and created a perfect star vehicle for the towering presence of
Vinnie Jones, who delivered memorable performances in both Snatch and Lock Stock,
as well as popping up in two American releases, Gone
in 60 Seconds and Swordfish. Jones, who looks
as if he can crush just about any mechanism with one of his hands, is renowned
in his native England for soccer, where he played for the league in Wales. So it
goes without saying that his role as Danny “the mean machine” Meehan fits
him like a perfect glove. In his first lead role, Jones perfectly handles the
dialogue like meat and potatoes, one at a time and chewed very carefully.
The deal: The prison governor (David Hemmings) has a gambling problem, and is crazy about football. He orders his new celebrity prisoner to coach the team. This does not sit well with the head guard, who coaches the guards' team, but what can he say? Danny doesn't much want to enter the coaching profession, but the governor makes him a threat he can't ignore.
The most enjoyable passages are some of the most predictable, recycled out of countless other movies where a leader has to pick his men. Danny finds himself with the prison contraband retailer, Massive (Vas Blackwood), as his right-hand man, and a violent, feared con named Monk (Jason Statham) as his star player. He gets a lot of valuable prison lore and advice from the ancient convict Doc (David Kelly).
All leads up to the big match, which of course involves hard play and dirty tricks, and dovetails neatly with the governor's gambling problem. Guy Ritchie, who started out as such an innovator in Snatch seems to have headed directly for reliable generic conventions as a producer. But they are reliable, and have become conventions for a reason: They work. Mean Machine is what it is, and very nicely, too.
a very striking video transfer for a visually striking movie. Like Snatch, much of the power of Mean
Machine lies within its visual
style, which is key in certain pivotal scenes like the final soccer battle, with
necessary quick camera cuts, etc. With this applied, Paramount has acquired a
near perfect video transfer, complete with sharpness and alive with vibrant
colors, adding up to a grand presentation.
A nicely tuned 5.1
audio mix is served triumphantly for this sharp sounding movie that carries with
it an array of striking music cuts, mostly modern techno with some old school
pop here and there. Along with sharp delivery of dialogue, the audio job on Mean
Machine is a much furious one, in
the good sense.
Basically deprived of any
extras, but this release gets a plus simply for offering both the domestic
theatrical version, as well as the original version from the U.K.