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Written by Graham Reed  
Friday, 15 October 2004
Welcome to the world of football violence. Of casual sex, casual drinking, casual racism…the world of the casuals.

A world seeming devoid of immorality, where everything Is now. Where there is no right or wrong, just right now. There is no tomorrow, so live for today. Live for the 90 minutes. Live for the match. Live on TV. A world of getting drunk, getting laid, getting into fights, and nothing more.

Following the story of Tommy Johnson (Danny Dyer) and his dead end, good for nothing job, dead end mates, dead end lifestyle, fuelled by cheap lager, anonymous sex and outbreaks of  meaningless life-affirming violence, The Football Factory is frank and brutal in its portrayal of the directionless, meaningless existence some find themselves in, with nothing to do but fuck or fight on a Saturday. It may pretend to be a study of white anglo-saxon males, bonding together with the uniform of branded sportswear and no.2 haircuts,  calling each other “My little chavvers” before dishing out cruel and unusual juvenile punishments to each other, but in reality: This film fails in that. 

Compare it to Fight Club. Not in a positive way, but in the same way that both films seem to assert that modern men can only truly find themselves in violence: this is how they feel alive. How they define themselves. That they cannot know beauty, or love, or success, or passion, without engaging in meaningless, senseless acts of wanton destruction. Whereas Fight Club asserted this point via deconstruction – men turn to this to bond, to find themselves and each other in a world of rampant consumerism,alienated from it all, yet knowing it's emptiness and foolishness  - The Football Factory seems to embrace it. Cherish it. Idolise it. Whereas in Fight Club, this resorting to violence is shown to be meaningless without love and ultimately futile, empty and self deceptive, there is no similar redemption or self-awareness in The Football Factory.There is simply violence for violence's sake. The violence in The Football Factory is presented as self fulfilling and redemptive in itself – "We Are men, We fight, it’s what we are". We define ourselves by our violence. By our gang culture. By our ability to rape and pillage, to terrorise others, to fight in city streets, in the open. 

We define ourselves this way because we have no other way of expressing ourselves, and if we had another way, would we choose it? Would it be as cool, as sexy, as encompassing and socially acceptable as fighting our rivals away from the pitch? 

Of course it fucking wouldn’t.  

And come the end, Our Hero walks into the pub as a made man, out of hospital with broken limbs, almost beaten to death, a hero. A survivor. One of the few to walk tall. He is welcomed, like the general at the front of a conquering army. They toast him another round, they drink their pints, and the cycle of violence continues.

And meanwhile, whatever shadow of intelligence he may once have had is now lost, gone forever, snuffed out under an army of Burberry and trackie bottoms. He knows the path and cycle of petty crime and violence will end ultimately in his own death – as foreshadowed elsewhere in this film – but he embraces it. Relishes it. He’d rather do this, than end up in a pitiless and meaningless death in his own home, killed by muggers, the young burberry clad vandals who break in and steal the only things he has left after six decades of life,  being put in the ground while the old veterans and his granddad polish their medals up for the day, with the hope of escaping away taken from him like so many empty and broken promises.

Brutal, Violent, and unrepentant, this feels like a film out of place. Fashioned with the good old-fashioned British tradition of nihilism and ultra-violence, it resembles Trainspotting more than any other film I’ve ever seen. With a relentless and irresponsible glamouristic message that this is it, that this violence is the real life, the only life that matters…. 

Ultimately this film deserves nothing more than being stuck into the trash bin where it deserves. Technically it has a lot to commend it, but lacking the wit, intelligence or insight of something like Fight Club, it substitutes sheer ultraviolence and a lack of subtext instead, and it’s message ultimately becomes one of acceptance, of approval, of the very things it might once have set out to condemn. In that aspect, this film is a complete and utter failure, and a dangerous, sociopathic, mysognystic and celebratory tale of ultraviolence.

At one point, the film asks "What else are you going to do on a Saturday instead?" Why not read a fucking book and use your fucking brain, rather than pummelling the shit out of it? Why not understand the human condition, rather than sending humans to casualty? Why not? 

‘Coz that would require some fucking brains. Of which this movie has none, except maybe splattered across a pavement by an 18 holed Doc Marten boot. Avoid this movie the same way you’d avoid a pub fight, a drunk with a flicknife, or a gang of soccer yobs on the make:-  at all costs.

If this is the best British cinema has to offer, we're better off not making movies at all

Written by Guest on 2005-04-25 11:26:47
you obviously don't like this film due to it's pointless violence. But you can't slag off the film for that! The film is based on facts that some people do go out and pointlessly fight at football games. This film is a lot more realistic than fightclub, purely for the fact that fightclub is a fictional story and this film isn't. It's almost a documentary!? :grin
i liked it
Written by DeviouS on 2006-01-01 21:12:02
but then again i like a good punch up when im pissed too :upset

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