The Firm Review
By Rich Cline
While Nick Love remains in his milieu of violent British cinema, at least this remake of an acclaimed 1989 TV movie is a superior hooligan movie. Even if we can't really identify with the characters, their story is fascinating.
In 1980s London, Dom (McNab) lives on an estate with his parents (Webber and Coduri), trying to find something he feels passionate about. He and his pal Terry (Seymour) just tend to get in trouble, and then they cross paths with Bex (Anderson), feared leader of the local football fan gang. Bex sees something interesting in Dom and invites him to join the firm, and soon Dom's dressing in top-brand tracksuits and heading off to wage war against other gangs. But when Bex's obsession turns more violent, Dom begins to have doubts.
Love clearly understands that this story has nothing to do with football; it's about the male ego and the need to find a place to fit in, even if it means sacrificing moral integrity. You hardly need to mention that the vintage leisurewear looks eerily like a military uniform, albeit a primary-coloured cartoon version. And Love rallies an impressive cast of extras for the crowded battle scenes, plus a triumphant, evocative 1980s song score.
Meanwhile, the dialog zings with humour and personality. Even if the lead teens aren't terribly accomplished actors, we accept them as awkward young guys trying to fit into what they perceive to be an adult world. Standouts in the cast are the scene-stealing Webber and the steely Mays as leader of a rival firm. Everyone in this film oozes so much bravado that it's almost overpowering, and most of the violence is of the verbal variety. To start with at least.
Essentially, the film is a series of sequences that build up to another clash between the firms, with telling scenes of hazing and other antics in between.
But this makes for a structure that feels repetitive and a bit dull, mainly because we have no emotional connection with any of the characters. And as Bex takes things far beyond any sense of reason, the script begins to feel a little contrived and obvious. Why anyone would follow him into the brink is the film's main unanswered question.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Wednesday 30th June 1993
Box Office Worldwide: $270.2M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Mirage Enterprises, Paramount Pictures, Davis Entertainment
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 39 Rotten: 13
Cast & Crew
Starring: Tom Cruise as Mitch McDeere, Jeanne Tripplehorn as Abby McDeere, Gene Hackman as Avery Tolar, Hal Holbrook as Oliver Lambert, Terry Kinney as Lamar Quinn, Wilford Brimley as William Devasher, Ed Harris as Wayne Tarrance, Holly Hunter as Tammy Hemphill, David Strathairn as Ray McDeere, Gary Busey as Eddie Lomax, Tobin Bell as The Nordic Man, Steven Hill as F. Denton Voyles, Barbara Garrick as Kay Quinn