Mean Machine, a british remake of the 1974 Burt Reynolds prison-football rouser ”The Longest Yard,” is set in a penitentiary that’s supposed to look scary and tough, and the movie is suffused with the European cult of soccer as the ultimate in raw gladiatorial clash. But let me be an American chauvinist for a moment: On screen, at least, soccer doesn’t appear nearly as warlike as football (it’s something about those dorky socks), and the inmates who band together for an exhibition match against the loutish guards are a crazy-quaint crew of derelicts, yobs, and losers. The only thing that could possibly make them less interesting than they already are is for them to get full montied into a scrappy, jovial team. Vinnie Jones, the real-life Brit soccer star who takes on the equivalent of the Reynolds role, has a thuggish command – he’s like Clive Owen reborn as a meanly desiccated hulk. But whereas Reynolds, back when he played the what-the-hell ringleader, looked as if he was enjoying himself, Jones just seems like he’d be happier busting a few heads. The first time you ever saw a movie about a collection of ragged, loudmouthed ruffians who put aside their differences to accomplish a goal (maybe it was even ”The Longest Yard”), that scenario carried a funny, taming-of-the-brutes jolt. After too many ”Full Monty”s, it has come to look like nothing so much as a coy ritual of emasculation.
(Mean Machine: Daniel Smith)
Genre: Sports; Starring: Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham, Vas Blackwood, Danny Dyer, Jason Flemyng, David Hemmings; Director: Barry Skolnick; Author: Charlie Fletcher; Runtime (in minutes): 99; MPAA Rating: R; Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Posted February 27 2002 — 12:00 AM EST
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