The Rise And Fall Of A White Collar Hooligan feels like a movie made in shorthand, taking a fairly well-worn tale and rushing through it so it seems like you’re getting the bullet points rather than the whole story.
Mike (Nick Nevern) lives for football and the violent disorder that he and other engage in after the match. However he has dreams about getting a decent job and being somebody – unfortunately he has few skills and a tendency to say completely the wrong thing at job interviews. His friend, Eddie (Simon Phillips), offer him a nice, simple, but well-paid position, couriering boxes around London. Mike is initially convinced it has to be drugs, but it turns out he’s actually got himself involved in credit card fraud, where criminals are cloning cards and heading out to cash machines each night to take money.
Initially it seems like a great idea, paying £1,000 a night for easy work, but inevitably things turn bad when a trip to Paris has the cops breathing down his neck and he discovers that behind-the-scenes are some old-fashioned criminal heavies. With the stakes becoming increasingly life and death, is there any way out?
It’s a decent enough basis for a film, and indeed it’s based on a true story, but it would have been nice if the movie has taken the time to actually tell its story, rather than rushing it. Indeed, if it weren’t for the audience understanding what are essentially missed out story points and motivations, because they know what they are from other similar movies, it wouldn’t work at all. It doesn’t help either that while the movie attempts to make Mike a protagonist you care about, much of the time he comes across as a bit of an idiotic dick, and not because he’s been seduced by the life of a criminal.
It’s also difficult to get behind what they’re doing. There are a couple scenes where Eddie shouts about how they’re getting back at the banks, as if the whole movie is some sort of revenge drama against the banking system that caused the financial collapse. However they’re just nicking money out of people’s accounts and causing the little guy all manner of problem trying to claim it back, so any sort of Robin Hood style claims ring a bit hollow. It’s possible we’re meant to think the guys are deluding themselves, but it just underlines that it’s difficult to care about them.
All these things could have been sorted out if the film had just taken the time to tell the story and flesh out the character, but it doesn’t. Indeed it gives the impression that there was a fair bit more filmed than shown, particularly as the intrusive voiceover is often used in place of plot and character development. It feels tacked on, something that’s essentially confirmed in the audio commentary. Mike’s voice is used as a rather crude crutch to try to prop up the film’s weaknesses, and occasionally to point out the blatantly obvious.
The audio commentary is quite fun, assuming you like all things blokish, with the director and a couple of the actors palling around and talking about the making of the movie. It is kind of interesting because even from the way they talk, it gives the impression that there was a slight lack of big-picture thinking during the shoot, leading to a lot of the major decisions having to be made in editing, based on what footage they had, rather than what was actually needed. The result is a film that while not completely without merit, has too many weaknesses to be considered a success.
Overall Verdict: Just imagine Goodfellas, but played on fast-forward, with a slightly clunky script and characters it’s difficult to care about. Oh and replace Scorsese with someone a bit more journeyman. Sound like fun?
Reviewer: Tim Isaac