Executive Producer Guy Ritchie's influence is more than slightly evident in first time feature director Barry Skolnick's style. You get the requisite mini music videos, a camera which refuses to sit still, shots that don't appear on screen for more than a few seconds (what ever became of the art of composition?), and an abundance of stylized violence tossed in for good measure. Many of Ritchie's regular actors are along for the ride too, such as Jones (who's actually asked to do more than just wear his patented steely glare), Blackwood, Jason Flemyng, and most notably Jason Statham, as martial arts savvy psychopath Monk.
What eluded Skolnick is Ritchie's edge (no matter how manufactured it may be). It's a classic underdog story, but the good guys aren't really that good nor are the bad guys that bad. The pacing is haphazard at best, skipping any sort of character development and snapping the plot into motion so hastily that one wishes they would've indulged in a primer of The Longest Yard immediately prior to seeing this remake. The soccer match is the centerpiece of the film, and its lengthy screen time is unwarranted, not only because of its predictability, but also due to the lack of a satisfying payoff. Just exactly what tremendous hurdle did this team of convicts leap? There are also several bumbling comic attempts, which come across as much more sophomoric than anything I would've imagined Ritchie would be associated with.
Mean Machine contains all the substance of a Twinkie -- easy to swallow, but scarcely nourishing. When you wake up in the morning, you'll be hard-pressed to recall the viewing experience.
On DVD, you can have it your way -- with the original UK version or the US cut. What's the difference? Damned if we know. The film's too dull to sit through twice -- you're on your own!
Mean shoe collection.
Run time: 99 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 26th December 2001
Distributed by: Paramount Classics
Production compaines: SKA Films
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 34%
Fresh: 19 Rotten: 37
IMDB: 6.5 / 10
Director: Barry Skolnick
Producer: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Vinnie Jones as Danny Meehan, David Kelly as Doc, David Hemmings as Governor, Ralph Brown as Burton, Vas Blackwood as Massive, Robbie Gee as Trojan, Geoff Bell as Ratchett, John Forgeham as Sykes, Sally Phillips as Tracey, Danny Dyer as Billy the Limpet, 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, Stephen Walters as Nitro, Andrew Grainger as Ketch, Jamie Sives as Chiv, Adam Fogerty as Mouse, Rocky Marshall as Cigs