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Mean Machine (2001, Vinnie Jones, David Hemmings)

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Vinnie Jones plays Danny Meehan, an ex-England football star convicted of throwing a match for money. He ends up inside, where the football-mad prison governor (David Hemmings), who has his own personal problems, makes him an offer: train a team of cons to take on the all-conquering team of screws and things will get easier. Meehan has no choice but to comply and, as well as having to cope with prison life, must weld a bunch of unfit misfits into a decent team.

Rightly credited as a British remake of Robert Aldrich’s The Mean Machine (aka The Longest Yard , itself the subject of an American re-make), and produced by Guy Ritchie (hence the appearance of some of the cast of Lock, Stock… ), this film does what it says on the tin. Jones, who is unlikely to be offered a romantic role opposite Halle Berry or Scarlett Johansson, hardly has to flex his acting muscles for the part, as he glowers his way through his role, motivating his team with what sound suspiciously like the sort of managerial talks he enjoyed at Wimbledon. But, to give him his due, the film hangs together. David Hemmings as the duplicitous governor enjoys his role, and the climatic football game is enjoyably brutal (so no acting needed from Jones there, then) with a climax that comes as, if not exactly a shock, a surprise.

production details
UK | 99 minutes | 2001

Director: Barry Skolnick
Writers: Charlie Fletcher, Chris Baker, Andy Day

cast
Danny Dyer as Billy the Limpet
David Kelly as Doc
Ralph Brown as Burton
Jamie Sives as Chiv
Stephen Walters as Nitro
Elwin ‘Chopper’ David as Jerome McFife
Vinnie Jones as Danny Meehan
David Hemmings as Governor
Vas Blackwood as Massive
Robbie Gee as Trojan
Geoff Bell as Ratchett
John Forgeham as Sykes
Sally Phillips as Tracey
Jason Flemyng as Bob Likely
Jason Statham as Monk
Martin Wimbush as Z
David Reid as Barman
David Cropman as Second Barman
Tim Perrin as Policeman
Paul Mari as Policeman
Nicholas Moss as Hayter
Andrew Grainger as Ketch
Adam Fogerty as Mouse
Rocky Marshall as Cigs