The Firm (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/09/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Watchable, well acted football hooligan drama, enlivened by a great soundtrack and some lovingly recreated 1980s period detail, though you can't help feeling you've seen it all before.

What's it all about?
Loosely (but not too loosely) based on Alan Clarke's 1988 football hooligan TV drama of the same name, The Firm stars Calum McNab (who looks like Danny Dyer's younger brother) as feckless 17-year-old Dom, who falls under the influence of charismatic West Ham gang leader Bex (Paul Anderson) after he bumps into him in a nightclub and fronts out an apology in the firm's local.

Before long, Dom is shoplifting designer gear and accompanying the firm on violent skirmishes against Millwall supporters, led by rival firm leader Yeti (Daniel Mays). However, Dom soon realises he's bitten off more than he can chew, as the violence of the Bex-Yeti vendetta spirals increasingly out of control.

The Good
Anderson is superb as Bex and the glimpses of his domestic life (husband, father, estate agent) offer subtle insights into hooligan culture without the script needing to spell it out for you. MacNab is equally good as Dom and there's hilarious, scene-stealing support from Eddie Webber and Camille Coduri as his warm-hearted, piss-taking parents, while the 1980s period detail is lovingly recreated throughout, aided by a great soundtrack.

Love handles the fight scenes well, ably conveying the sense of escalating chaos, while still maintaining Dom's sickened-on-the-sidelines perspective and refusing to glorify the violence. To that end, it's clear from the start that Dom is attracted to the clothes, the lifestyle and the sense of belonging, rather than the violence, though it's harder to understand his desire for a father figure when Webber seems to be a pretty decent sort, father-wise.

The Bad
To be fair, Love has made several changes to Clarke's original (such as shifting the perspective from Bex to Dom), but that doesn't change the fact that there's nothing here that you won't have seen before in countless other hooligan dramas, including Love's own The Football Factory. Similarly, Mays is miscast as Yeti and can't quite pull off the requisite air of menace.

Worth seeing?
The Firm is never less than watchable, thanks to some amusing dialogue and strong performances from its two leads, but there's nothing here to mark it out from other hooligan dramas.

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The Firm (18)
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Content updated: 22/07/2018 17:15

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