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|
Guy Ritchie (executive)
Tracy Keenan Wynn|
|Story by||Albert S. Ruddy|
|Music by||John Murphy|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
Danny "The Mean Machine" Meehan is a former captain of the England national football team, who was banned from football for life for fixing a match they played against Germany, 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. 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' 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 Walters (billed as 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
The film also included a number of actors who had formerly played professional football, including three players who were team mates with the film's star, Vinnie Jones, at different times in their careers: Charlie Hartfield (prisoners' team in the movie) played with Jones for Sheffield United F.C., while Paul Fishenden and Brian Gayle (guards' team in the movie) both played with Jones for Wimbledon F.C.. In addition, Nevin Saroya (prisoners' team) was once a Brentford F.C. youth team player. Ryan Giggs, then an active player with Manchester United F.C. and the Wales national football team, appears briefly (at minute 77:00) as a warden.
Producer Matthew Vaughan , while looking for a film vehicle to highlight ex-soccer star Vinnie Jones, came across director Robert Aldrich's 1974 American football comedy The Longest Yard. Jones, who was known for rough play and off-field rowdiness, seemed a natural for the lead role.
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.
Release and ReceptionEdit
Mean Machine was released in United Kingdom theaters on 28 December 2001 and according to the box office database website Box Office Mojo, grossed $2,288,365 during its opening weekend with a total domestic gross of $6,288,153 (as of 27 January 2002). The film was released in the United States on 22 February 2002 with total gross receipts in the amount of $92,770. Total foreign gross (excluding the United States) was $929,283 (as of 23 February 2003).
Reception of the film was mixed to negative, according to Rotten Tomatoes, which gave the film a 34% score. Aggregate website Metacritic gave the film a Metascore of 45, indicating average or mixed reviews, and a user score of 7.7 indicating positive audience response. A major criticism of the film was that it was unintentionally funny and led to "prison cliches".
Jamie Russell of the BBC wrote, "[I]t keeps its tongue welded firmly in its cheek. The scriptwriters have enough sense to replay every funny moment from the original, while also adding a couple of innovations of their own. The final soccer game is definitely the high point of the proceedings, if only because it lets the star do what he does best - play some very dirty football."
While A.O. Scott of the New York Times wrote, "Reviewing ''The Longest Yard'' in The New York Times 28 years ago, Nora Sayre objected to its clumsiness and violence, but admitted to being entertained by the football sequences. Watching this remake, I had the opposite response: the story was moderately engaging and moved swiftly, but the long soccer match at the end bored me silly. Perhaps this is just American chauvinism, or perhaps that kind of football is inherently less cinematic than ours. It's certainly no less brutal."
- CHAUTARD, ANDRE (2002-02-22). "'Mean Machine,' Soccer's Version of 'Longest Yard'". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
- Vinniejones.co.uk Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Mean Machine (2002) - Box Office Mojo". www.boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
- Mean Machine – Movie Reviews – Rotten Tomatoes
- Mean Machine, retrieved 2018-09-05
- "BBC - Films - review - Mean Machine". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
- Scott, A. O. "FILM IN REVIEW; 'Mean Machine'". Retrieved 2018-09-05.