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Overall Rating
2.42

Awesome: 13.95%
Worth A Look: 6.98%
Just Average: 2.33%
Pretty Crappy60.47%
Sucks: 16.28%

5 reviews, 13 user ratings


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Mean Machine
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by Robert Flaxman

"An okay idea for a remake, but the usual execution."
2 stars

Itís generally not wise for a remake to adhere too closely to the film that inspired it, lest it create as many unfavorable comparisons as possible. However, if youíre going to include scenes that pull more or less word-for-word from the original film, itís probably better that those scenes be the ones that made the first film what it was. Sadly, Mean Machine, a 2001 British update of the 1974 film The Longest Yard, takes more or less the opposite tack Ė while it retains the basic premise and many scenes nearly intact, it also changes or pulls out much of what made The Longest Yard a sports-movie classic, sinking itself in the process.

Eager to dispense with its own backstory, Mean Machine opens with a drunken car chase scene so short that the film might as well have just opened in prison and given us a few lines of expository dialogue. Mean Machine clearly doesnít want to make its main character, former soccer star Danny Meehan (Vinnie Jones), into an antihero along the lines of Burt Reynoldsí Paul Crewe, whose story is more interesting to follow because heís a darker character who assaults his girlfriend in the opening scene and needs to make amends for that in the eyes of the audience. Sure, Meehan punches a couple of cops, but itís hardly at the same level, especially since itís all over in a flash.

Indeed, Mean Machine seems intent on accomplishing all of its character development in the nicest way possible. After being ignored or derided when he starts at the prison, Meehan earns the respect of the cons when he saves Massive (the Caretaker surrogate, played by Vas Blackwood) from a severe beating at the hands of the racist guard Ratchett (Geoff Bell). Conveniently, Ratchett neither says nor does anything racist for the rest of the film, apparently just because itís not necessary for the plot.

More problematically, the film messes with its main characterís motivation. In both Mean Machine and The Longest Yard, Meehan/Crewe is threatened by the Warden to throw the final game. In Yard, Crewe capitulates at first, after extracting a promise that the guards will go easy on his men once the game is out of hand (itís when the warden orders them to do the opposite, and after a battle with his conscience, that Crewe comes back on). Meehan doesnít ask for such a guarantee, however Ė and while his decision to come back on late in the game is depicted as a conscientious decision to stick it to the warden, Machine features a character named Sykes (John Forgeham), not based on anyone in the original, who runs gambling schemes in the prison and has placed a heavy bet on the cons to win. With Sykes sitting on the sidelines and having the capacity to do some nasty things to him just like the warden, Danny is caught between a rock and a hard place and must choose whom to cross. Creweís decision was far more layered, with no one pushing from the side opposite the warden except for his own sense of right.

In some respects itís unfair to compare Mean Machine directly to The Longest Yard, but remakes invite such comparisons. There are certainly things Machine does right Ė the very setting is a strong one, as soccer in England is a passion unrivaled by anything the United States could offer up. Paul Crewe throwing a couple of ultimately random football games isnít that meaningful in the grand scheme, certainly not compared to Danny Meehan throwing a game against Germany as captain of the England international team. More needed to be done with such a setup, however, and it really wasnít.

Similarly, Machine brings in an actor in Vinnie Jones who is even more perfectly suited to the role than Reynolds was, having played professional soccer and even captained the Welsh international team Ė but then it resorts to a lot of quick cuts during the game footage, rather than actually getting some guys out there who could play, as Yard did. Sillier still, the filmmakers use the game not to show off Jones (whoís supposed to be the only real star out there), but the Monk (a somewhat miscast Jason Statham), whose zany Jorge Campos-like antics become the focus of the filmís final half hour. Jones still gets his moments in the game, but itís baffling that he doesnít have more. Sure, soccerís a team game, and the film and Jones take great pains to emphasize that, but if thatís the case, why is the Monk onscreen so much?

Ultimately, Mean Machine has a solid appeal that it mostly squanders by doing not much interesting with what it retains from its predecessor and even less interesting with what it invents on its own. Itís never unwatchable, but thatís probably the highest praise that can be offered Ė even if you donít really understand American football, The Longest Yard is more complex with better character motivations and a more interesting final game. Mean Machine tries to filter The Longest Yard into its preferred milieu, but too much gets stuck in the sieve.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5770&reviewer=385
originally posted: 08/24/05 14:30:00
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User Comments

4/17/09 Kos I'm from America, and I thought it was pretty good. Monk is hilarious. 4 stars
1/16/09 Shaun Wallner This movie stinks!! 2 stars
10/08/05 Rosa Fleur Totally not worth the bother! Na your not getting a good rating from me! 1 stars
6/08/05 jack diamond black. very funny. 5 stars
5/21/05 nishant pratap BLOODY GREAT MOVIE 5 stars
3/20/04 Jack-pyschO-Lantern Monk RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
1/27/04 George Great Movie.....Gotta Love the Monk!!!! 5 stars
11/14/03 B. Frsh Cool man...of course if you'e American (like the reviewer here) you'll hateit :) 4 stars
11/08/02 SPYDER Come on you gotta love MONK!!!! 5 stars
10/30/02 Patrick hilarious...especially if you like soccer...yanks will probably hate it. 5 stars
9/03/02 Joe Zappa A disappointing waste of Ritchie, Jones, Flemyng, & Statham's talents. 2 stars
8/03/02 daniboy really good 4 stars
2/24/02 Neil Austin An ok remake of a crappy film. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Feb-2002 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  09-May-2002




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