The Football FactoryThursday 24 Jun 2004
Directed by Nick Love, starring Danny Dyer, Frank Harper, Tammer Hassan, Roland Manookian, Neil Maskell, Dudley Sutton and Jamie Foreman.
'The Football Factory' is a heart-thumping ninety minutes of beer-swilling, cocaine-sniffing, crime and violence charting the exploits of a firm of Chelsea-supporting football hooligans.
Seen through the eyes of Tommy Johnson (Dyer), director Nick Love delves into the day-to-day life of football hooligans - normal everyday working men who transform into violent thugs on a Saturday afternoon. Johnson is approaching thirty and starting to take stock of his life. He is a very plausible character with Dyer, like all the cast members, really looking and acting the part.
When Chelsea are drawn away to London rivals Millwall in the third round of the FA Cup, the firm begin preparations for the mother of all battles. For young Zeberdee (Manookian) it is his chance to prove himself to the older members of the collective, while middle-aged Billy Bright (Harper) hopes for an opportunity to show he isn't past it. Tommy, meanwhile, inadvertently upsets Millwall's top-man Fred (Hassan), leaving him struggling to cope with nightmares and a nervous disposition in the lead up to the big day.
The really impressive thing about this movie is that it doesn't change your feelings about hooligans. Their lifestyle is neither vilified nor justified and even the ending can be interpreted whichever way you prefer.
Based on the 1996 novel of the same name by John King, it is skilfully brought forward into modern day Britain. The soundtrack is absolutely spot-on with The Jam and The Streets among the many bands who set the edgy mood that permeates throughout.
The way it deals with male boredom is reminiscent of 'Trainspotting', and some of the other scenes can be traced back to films such as 'Goodfellas'. It isn't the most original flick you'll ever see, but nevertheless it is an enjoyable and worthwhile look at the murky world of twenty-first century English soccer hooliganism.