Starring: Ricci Harnett, Terry Stone, Craig Fairbrass
Director: Julian Gilbey
Running Time: 119 mins
Rise Of The Footsoldier is a British film about the rise to prominence of Carlton Leach, a football hooligan in West Ham’s firm that became one of the most prolific and feared Essex mobsters throughout the 1980s and 90s.
This is a film that had a lot of potential in its premise. The true story of Carlton Leach is a very gritty gangster story, and not just about hooliganism, but the development of the Essex mob, and I went into this expecting to see such a story. Whilst it does deliver to some extent in that aspect in the beginning, this film quickly becomes a convoluted and overly dramatic story that didn’t hold my interest at all.
That said, there are still a whole lot of positives to take from this film, starting with the excellent directing from Julian Gilbey. The way that he portrays a lot of the violence in this film is very strong and very powerful, particularly through his use of shaky cam and fast editing to create excitement in the fight scenes, which was what really caught my eye at the beginning of the film.
Also, the fact that this film starts off by showing this story in two different lights: the football hooliganism and the gangster plot, makes it particularly intriguing and unique from so many other films similar to this, and that really cemented my interest from the start.
However, after the first half an hour or so of this film, it all falls apart. Yes, the characters, which were relatively interesting at the beginning stay on, however more horrible and unpleasant characters emerge later on in the story, which was one of the main reasons that it became so unpleasant to watch.
Basically, whilst the violence was portrayed well at the beginning of the film, it goes a little bit too far towards the end. In an attempt to create shock value, there’s a whole lot of extremely gruesome and gory violence as the film goes on, however it strays into the territory of Tarantino-esque gratuitous violence, which is what makes it lose its sense of gritty realism, which was what was making the story so interesting initially.
Finally, the story ultimately becomes hugely convoluted towards the end of the film. It all builds up to a very dramatic climax, but in order to create a more dramatic and tense atmosphere, the story replays this one climactic incident from various different perspectives, but it just doesn’t have the desired effect, and becomes very repetitive and boring to watch in the end.
So, overall, this gets a 6.6, because although it has an impressive, interesting and eye-catching opening, it drags on and becomes a very boring, and not at all powerful attempt at a gangster film.