This evening I went along to a preview screening Nick Love’s latest movie, ‘The Firm’. A seemingly shy, reserved but proud Love stood there to introduce the film which he was obviously looking forward to us seeing. The Firm is a remake of the Alan Clarke TV movie of the same name which starred Gary Oldman back in 1988. This version is directed by Nick Love who has previously brought us movies such as ‘The Football Factory’. Both versions of ‘The Firm’ are based around the original screenplay which was written by Al Ashton.
The backbone of ‘The Firm’ focuses around the football gang violence which occurred in the 1980’s. Groups would use football matches as reasons to meet up and fight one another for supremacy off the pitch. West Ham are the team that we follow closely throughout the movie. The West Ham ‘Firm’ is led by Bex, played by Paul Anderson who, by day, has a well paid job with a wife and baby. He loves his family, he goes to work and earns a living but lives another life which resolves solely around the violence and rush that he gets when he fights against other clubs for superiority.
We quickly get moved towards two more characters early in the film. This is where the similarities with the original TV movie starts to occur. Both Dom (Calum McNab) and his best friend, Terry (Billy Seymour) are normal lads living on an estate trying to get through their teenage years trying to be as cool as possible! Dom believes that hanging around with Bex is where he’ll gain the most respect and find his place in life and gets completely wrapped up in the football hooligan’s life – until it all goes too far and needs to find a way out. But it’s never that easy!
I really enjoyed this movie. Nick Love seemed to be able to do what I’ve only ever seen Tarantino do exceptionally well, where there can be a very intense dialogue and story and suddenly humour will be added to the script. The costume design for Bex and Dom is awesome. I mean really awesome! If you think back to the 1980s and think tracksuits with Ellesse, Kappa, Adidas trainers and you’re pretty much there. If you’ve seen any advert for this movie (click the poster above to enlarge) you’ll know what I mean. It’s serious John McEnroe all the way – something which is played off throughout the whole movie.
Attention to detail with the script, the cars, the drab estates and the way in which the news was reported is all spot on and Nick Love should be congratulated for bringing all these elements together so well. The funky 80s jazz soundtrack is audible through pretty much all of the movie and is a perfect fit. The cast was excellent with McNab carrying the film excellently. He was surrounded by actors much older than he but didn’t seem to let this phase him and I think was cast perfectly. Paul Anderon is also no big name in the acting world. If you look him up on IMDB, you’ll see that his credentials are very small but again, he was cast perfectly. You’re not sure whether to love him or hate him in the movie – I think that’s the point! Daniel Mays plays Bex’s counterpart, Yeti, as the head of the gang from Millwall. Mays has been around for a long time now and his CV suggests that he’s a man in popular demand. This movie shows off more of his gritty talent and you can see why that demand is there.
Would I say this movie is better as the original TV movie – I don’t think I would but if you take the 2009 version as a standalone piece of cinema, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised.