Because as much as I will passionately defend the British movie industry, there sometimes comes along a film that is indefensible and makes you wonder why we bother. This is one such movie.And it's no huge co-incidence that it stars Vinnie Jones (see my 'Snatch' review for my full views on this non-entity)
Jones (an ex-football star in case you don't know) stars as Danny Meehan, ex England captain. Hmm, an ex-footballer. Stretching yourself there aren't you Vinnie?
Anyway Meehan gets arrested for drink-driving and is sentenced for two years. Being such a famous footballer marks him out for special attention from the Governor (David Hemmings) who wants him to to train a team of ex-cons against the guards.
It's a cliched situation that never attempts to pull itself above cliche. The Governor? He's corrupt obviously. The rest of the prisoners? Well, they're all good people at heart and who we should be rooting for. Am I the only person sick of prison movies showing the guards as evil and the prisoners as hard done by? Prisoners are prisoners for a reason people! They're usually scum and just for once I'd like to see a film present them as such.
You get the old lag, who conveniently expresses sorrow for his crime of killing a rivals children (he didn't mean to do it obviously. That's alright then) shortly before having his face blown off. I'd call that a spoiler if it wasn't so completely predictable.
And as for the female character...well, it's the most disgustingly sexist treatment of a character I've ever seen. The secretary takes one look at Meehan and promptly decides to betray the Governor, give him top secret information and then shag him in the office. And that's all her purpose is. Nice eh? (note to Vinnie. Get over yourself, I have it on good authority from...ooh, practically every female I've spoken to that you're one of the last people that would be regarded as a heart-throb. Self-circumsion would seem to be more preferable than a stiffy from you)
Then there's the prison top dog, who obviously has more power than the governor and also wants to use Meehan in the game. Jesus, the cliche-o-meter nearly exploded at one point.
The cliches wouldn't even be that annoying if the film had any professional sheen whatsoever. But it doesn't. The acting ranges from forgettable (Jones) to awful (newcomer Stephen Chambers, whose main talent seems to be shouting and spitting), I lost count of the amount of times that I saw the boom mic (did they employ a blind editor?), and even the climatic match lacks interest or excitement.
There a couple of nice one-liners and Jason Stathams role as a mad goalkeeper is easily the best thing in the movie, but as he has about 5 minutes of screen time that's really nowhere near enough to save this.'Mean Machine' is nothing more than a huge vanity project for Jones, and he's one of the least deserving 'actors' around. Avoid like you would a holiday to Afghanistan.