Rise of the Footsoldier
If you’ve already picked up any of the Nick Love titles displayed alongside the vegetable-rack in your local supermarket (The Football Factory, The Business, Outlaw), then you’re in the target audience for Julian 'Rollin’ With the Nines' Gibley’s feral account of three decades of violence in the British underworld.
Pivoting around the same Range-Rover killings as the similarly pedestrian Essex Boys (2000), Rise of the Footsoldier follows thug Carlton Leach (Ricci Harnett) through the ranks of various criminal fraternities, from ICF football hooligans in the late 70s, the happy-clappy 80s rave scene and then into the 90s, as Leach’s gang begins masterminding cocaine shipments into the UK.
Nothing to do with military matters, Rise of the Footsoldier makes little attempt at period detail or characterisation — the gangsters are portrayed as such lumpen bovver-boys, it’s a wonder their real life counterparts haven’t sued for defamation. Gruesome details (knives rammed up backsides, guns pointed at babies, a pizza-cutter jammed in a mouth) are thrown into the mix in the hope of suggesting grit to a gullible young audience, but there’s little tension or flair in the presentation.
And Gibley’s pre-occupation with showing terrified, innocent bystanders indicates that, like the British sex-comedies of the 70s, this squalid genre is mainly about creating cheap, vicarious thrills for people who don’t get out much. (Eddie Harrison)
Selected release from Fri 7 Sep.