The Football Factory (2004)


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The Football Factory – review

This was originally posted on MovieRob as part of Genre Grandeur in September 2016. Thanks to Rob and Prime Six for coming up with another great idea for Genre Grandeur. The Football Factory came immediately to mind when I heard the words ‘realistic films’ and love it or hate it (I love it – which some people do find slightly amusing) it’s certainly a well made film, telling an accurate story about the lives of some male Brits.

The film follows young Londoner Tommy Johnson (Danny Dyer) as he and his Chelsea supporter pals go around fighting rival football supporters, taking the piss out of each other, drinking beer and taking drugs. It’s hard to say why I like this film so much, but I do – I love it. It makes me laugh mainly, the characters are weirdly likable and the dialogue (some of it ad-libbed) is very funny. It’s an exciting, fun and thoroughly entertaining movie, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched it.

But what makes it so realistic? Football hooliganism isn’t much of a thing in the UK anymore and though the fight scenes are brutally real to watch (the sound of knuckle against head is a horrible sound), brawls of that scale don’t really go on in this country. It’s more the little details in The Football Factory – the writing and the characters, that bring it to life. Though interestingly, director Nick Love did use real ex-football hooligans to bulk up the cast in fight scenes and has claimed there were moments it really did ‘kick off’. I’ve watched the making of documentary on YouTube (highly recommend if you’re a fan) and it’s not hard to believe at all – there was a very, very faint line between cast and character.

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It’s mainly down to Love’s own knowledge of, not just football hooliganism but the actual characters in the film, that gives it such a realistic edge. It’s clear that The Football Factory was made by someone who understands the genre, the story they’re telling and the people they’ve written about. The characters are all spot on, from the slang words they use – “don’t get lemon” – to the clothes they wear. Hacket, Stone Island and Burberry are all brands worn by the characters and even spoken of in the script – “some nutter in a Stone Island jumper and a blade in my face” – (football hooligans have always favoured certain fashion brands, like wearing a type of uniform).

Whilst it’s true that 1989 film The Firm might just have the edge as football violence favourite, this film was made of the time and what Love manages to do is capture a real type of modern culture in The Football Factory. Twinned with fantastic, well developed characters who are mainly just normal people bored with their lives, trying to find a bit of excitement out on the terraces.

“Was it all worth it?” 

But the thing I love most about The Football Factory – and apologies in advance for spoilers – is that there is no moral conscience. Usually a movie like this would show the lead character learning the error of his ways and realising there’s more to life than senseless violence and sitting in the boozer with his pals. But there’s none of that life affirming bollocks here. No redemption at all. It’s an attitude and an ending I can’t help but admire a lot and speaking honestly it just makes me smile. I guess it could be argued that The Football Factory depicts violence in too much of a positive light but I don’t agree with this. The characters shortfalls and faults are displayed, as are the negative effects the fighting has on their lives. You don’t leave the film thinking of them as heroes (at all), but you do get to know them and perhaps understand them a little more. Maybe they made you laugh once or twice too. Like real life, the characters are not one dimensional – they have good and bad sides and if the film had some message about hooliganism being wrong it would have felt like a cop out anyway. This is a way of life to these people. And apart from their rivals willing to fight them, they’re not hurting anyone.

“Course it fucking was.”

As I always say, The Football Factory won’t be for everyone but there’s certainly worse ways you could spend ninety-one minutes of your life (like watching an ACTUAL football match…yawn). Generally it’s a fun film with a rocking soundtrack and entertaining characters and scenes but important to note in this review particularly, that The Football Factory captures what life is like for some people. Not just the fighting and the hooliganism, but the pub culture, the drugs and trying to pull a bird, the boredom of a dead end job Monday to Friday and the excitement for the weekend. It’s not just a film about hooliganism and a lot of can relate in places, maybe a tiny bit.

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About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
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46 Responses to The Football Factory (2004)

  1. emmaliddell19 says:

    Just stumbled across this review, I’m so surprised I’ve never heard of this film. I’m 100% going to track it down and watch now!

    Thank you x

    • emmakwall says:

      You’re very welcome 🙂 can I ask how did you find the review (out of interest?) and more importantly….have you seen it yet and did you enjoy it?! Thanks for your comment x

      • emmaliddell19 says:

        Hey, I found it under the football hashtag when I was browsing , I’ve not seen it yet, going to watch it on Monday or Tuesday night when I’m off college , will let you know what I think xx

  2. jwforeva says:

    Damn this sounds lit, so gangsta haha.

  3. Sean says:

    Sounds interesting! I always have been fascinated by the total fan investment in football. It’s vastly different than how we Canadians approach spectator sports (Montreal excluded as they get hockey crazy on occasion but even that isn’t to the same level).

    • emmakwall says:

      I know what you mean, it REALLY means a lot to people sometimes, can lead to fights, falling out, tears, ecstatic joy. I guess it gives people a sense of belonging, all rooting for the same thing. Deep man!

      What are the biggest sports in Canada, hockey of course. What about football, do people play much?

      Thanks for your comment Sean!

  4. I bet you embody hooliganism to the fullest extent! lol Great review Ems!

  5. table9mutant says:

    Great review, Emma! : ) I know this is one you like. Not sure it’s for me… But I see plenty of this sort of thing in the UK anyway! Think I remember you liking Green Street too? More football hooligans! (I’ve not seen that one). Oh – Do you like Essex Boys?? Seems like an Emma movie. ; )

    • emmakwall says:

      Nooooooo! Green Street was my shitfest entry lol, it’s an awful film. But you are indeed correct I generally like ‘British thug movies’ lol. To be fair even the shit ones I can watch…to a degree!

      Essex Boys isn’t a favourite but I’d certainly watch it again. I watched Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels today funnily enough. I’m not even sure why I gravitate towards films like that haha, just….enjoy ’em!!

  6. Wonderful review Ms Ems! This sounds really good. I’m going to see if I can find it over here.💁🏻
    xoxoxo
    #kindredspirits

  7. beetleypete says:

    A classic London film, and one that brings out the geezer in me every time. especially when they go to Millwall. I agree that I would sooner watch this any day, than an actual football match.
    As ever, Pete. XXX

  8. alexraphael says:

    Football is awesome. As someone once said if football didn’t exist someone would have to invent it haha.

  9. boppinsblog says:

    I think I’ll stick to watching hockey.
    Less chance of witnessing/getting in a fight.

    😉

  10. vinnieh says:

    Great review sassy sister. I remembered you telling me that you liked this movie a while back.

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