Continues to shock with its sheer audacity
We come in peace, we leave you in pieces
Bex is married with a child, has a well-paid job, a nice house in a nice community and has good bunch of mates that he hangs around with. Bex is also a violent sociopath and football hooligan, who would rather fight his way through life than talk. But he has a plan. A plan to unite all the rival football gangs, or ‘firms’ as they are known, to swarm into Europe creating the sort of havoc that has plagued the English game for years. Only the rival firms’ don’t want it, they would rather fight on their own and quash Bex’s plans with their own fists. It will take something extraordinary to happen before the firms’ work together. And Bex is the man to provide it. He will unite them under his rule; they will not get in his way, his crew will not get in his way, his wife, child and lively-hood will not get in his way. He needs the ‘buzz’. Needs it more than anything. But what will he do? How will his dream come true? It will take great sacrifice and Bex is the crusader, the chosen one and on his shoulders does he carry the game forward. His legacy will be forever remembered.
Alan Clarke’s vision of hooliganism was more of an organisational institution of violence perpetrated by well-paid, well educated, but unfulfilled individuals who sought the rush associated with gang warfare and extreme violence. Indeed, The Firm was not very far from the truth as during the 80’s the individual hooligan was being replaced by highly organised gangs of warring fans who all knew each other and were in it for the violence. Clarke’s style is one of realism; captured by long takes on steady-cam, placing the audience into the scene, sometimes in sickening detail, while allowing his actors to evolve around the script, getting the very best from everyone involved. Many of his films, this one included, where aimed at provoking a reaction, or, more precisely, to shock audiences from complacency and thus to ask the question: Why? Bex is played by Gary Oldman and never has he been more charismatic or frightening in a role; he effortlessly plays the complexity of a character that is both loving but dangerously violent. Add him to a tight, fast-paced script and you have a film that continues to shock with its sheer audacity.
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