Synopsis by Mark Deming
The classic Burt Reynolds football-behind-bars flick The Longest Yard crosses the pond and gets an appropriate British accent in the process in this rough-and-tumble mixture of sports and action-comedy. Danny Mehan (Vinnie Jones) was one of the biggest stars in British football (what Americans call soccer), until he was caught rigging a game during a championship tournament. In the wake of this scandal, Danny's career takes a nosedive and his life spins out of control, until he finally ends up in prison for three years on an assault and battery conviction. Danny discovers there are a number of football fans behind bars who still hate him for fixing the game, but Danny has one powerful fan in this prison. The warden (David Hemmings) is a devoted football supporter with a taste for gambling; he's been trying to assemble a semi-pro team comprised of the prison's guards, but Danny is just smart enough to know this would seal his fate with his fellow prisoners. Instead, he offers to put together a team of inmates, who can play practice games against the guards. A new inmate, Sykes (John Forgeham), gets wind of Danny's idea and arranges an exhibition match between Danny's new team and the guards, though Sykes' motivation is more than just good fun. A powerful bookie, Sykes lost a fortune on the game Danny threw, and expects betting to be heavy for this game. If Danny and his men win, Sykes could make back the fortune he lost, but if the guards come out ahead, Danny's goose is cooked. Can Danny turn a gang of losers, misfits, and violent psychopaths -- including muscle-bound lunatic Monk (Jason Statham), creepy but loyal Billy the Limpit (Danny Dyer), tough guy Massive (Vas Blackwood), pyromaniac Nitro (Robbie Gee), and enthusiastic but out-of-shape Raj (Omid Djalili) -- into a proper team with a fighting chance of winning? Mean Machine was produced by Matthew Vaughn, who was also behind Guy Ritchie's tough-but-stylish crime comedies Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Star Vinnie Jones, by the way, enjoyed a career as a professional footballer in Great Britain before turning to acting.
soccer, prison, prison-guard, match (sports), Britain, gambling, prison-warden