Mean Machine (film)
Mean Machine is a 2001 British sports comedy film directed by Barry Skolnick. It stars former footballer Vinnie Jones. The film is an adaptation of the 1974 American film The Longest Yard, featuring association football rather than American football. It also reunites most of the cast who have starred in the Guy Ritchie blockbusters Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Barry Skolnick|
|Produced by||Matthew Vaughn
Guy Ritchie (executive)
|Screenplay by||Tracy Keenan Wynn
|Story by||Albert S. Ruddy|
|Music by||John Murphy|
|Edited by||Eddie Hamilton
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
Danny "The Mean Machine" Meehan (Vinnie Jones), a former captain of the England national football team who was banned from football for life for fixing a match between England and Germany (the England Football Team's greatest European rivals), is sentenced to three years in Longmarsh prison for assaulting two police officers after a long drinking session and driving recklessly to a local bar.
Once inside, he is immediately beaten by the prison guards for misbehaving, and is subsequently approached by the prison governor. The governor offers Meehan a job as coach of the prison wardens' football team; not wanting to make enemies with the other prisoners, Meehan declines, and instead offers to train a team consisting of other inmates, who will take on the wardens in a practice match. Meehan then recruits the resident contraband dealer, Massive, as his right-hand man, and receives advice from an elderly convict, Doc, who teaches Meehan prison lore and warns Meehan to avoid making mistakes by revealing he was in prison for killing an enemy as well as the enemy's wife and child with a grenade.
Meehan wins the respect of the other inmates after he attacks an officer, Mr. Ratchett, who is severely beating Massive, and is then occupied with the task of training up his team of cons, including a maximum-security con named Monk (Jason Statham). Meanwhile, the governor of the prison gets himself into trouble with "Barry the Bookie," an unlicensed bookie who was recommended to him by Sykes, the resident prison boss, and decides to try to make back the money he owes by betting on the prison guards' team. Doc is killed when Nitro, an unstable inmate and bomb expert, plants a bomb in Meehan's locker at the encouragement of Mr. Ratchett. Nitro is subsequently sent to another facility, but not to the minimum-security hospital he was promised – he is sent to an alternate facility where Ratchett reveals he will be heavily sedated all the time.
The match commences shortly after Doc's death. At half time, the inmates' team, Mean Machine is winning 1–0, and things are going well until the governor, fearing what will happen if he loses a second bet, attempts to blackmail Meehan into throwing the match. At first he puts his own interests before that of the team's, deliberately playing badly but as the final moments of the game tick down, he redeems himself, bravely using a square-ball to fellow inmate 'Billy the Limpet' (Danny Dyer) to win the game for the cons. Afterward, the Captain of the Guards, Mr. Burton, refuses to co-operate with the governor's attempts to get revenge on Danny, instead congratulating him on the match. The governor's vehicle explodes, and Sykes informs him that he, and Barry the Bookie, will retaliate if he tries anything. Danny and Massive walk triumphantly across the pitch.
- Vinnie Jones as Danny Meehan
- David Kelly as Doc
- Jason Statham as Monk
- Jamie Sives as Chiv
- Danny Dyer as Billy the Limpet
- Stephen Martin Walters as Nitro
- Rocky Marshall as Cigs
- Adam Fogerty as Mouse
- David Hemmings as Governor
- Ralph Brown as Burton
- Vas Blackwood as Massive
- Robbie Gee as Trojan
- Geoff Bell as Ratchett
- John Forgeham as Sykes
- Sally Phillips as Tracey
- Andrew Grainger as Kat
- Jason Flemyng as Bob Likely
- Martin Wimbush as Z
- David Reid as Barman
- David Cropman as Second Barman
- Omid Djalili as Raj
- J. J. Connolly as Barry The Bookie
- Stephen Bent as Referee
- Paul Lavin as Losing 3–0
- Ryan Giggs as a warden (cameo at minute 77:00)
The film also included a number of actors who had formerly played professional football. Charlie Hartfield, who played for Sheffield United and Swansea City, and Nevin Saroya, a former youth team player at Brentford, appeared for the prisoners' team. Footballers on the guards' team included Paul Fishenden and Brian Gayle, who both played for Wimbledon.
Mean Machine was filmed from April to June 2001. Most of the prison scenes were filmed at HM Prison Oxford, and the match was filmed at The Warren, the former home ground of Yeading. The Warren is located in Hayes.
Reception of the film was mixed to negative, according to Rotten Tomatoes, which gave the film a 34% score. A major criticism of the film was that it was unintentionally funny, that led to "prison cliches".