A football hooligan and all round hard-case works his way up through the 1990’s club scene and into the drug trafficking underworld.
Based on a true story, Rise Of The Foot Soldier is desperate to be the British equivalent of Scarface or Goodfellas but set as it is within the small time criminal underworld of glamorous Essex, it was never going to measure up. Although the protagonists of those stories perpetrated despicable acts, they did so with charisma and style as participants in an almost alien landscape where the normal rules of civilisation don’t apply. Here, we just see a series of montages of gratuitous violence inflicted by fat-necked, obnoxious geezers shouting “You FACKING CANT!” at each other. It’s impossible to like a single one of them and the film’s total absence of depth of characterisation or any attempt at filling in the background stories of their relationships means that it’s impossible for the viewer to care what happens to any of them. There are a couple of decent sequences and it starts and ends well, but a central performance of a character – who has nothing to do with the major event that the film is leading up to – that oscillates between red-faced shouting and near comatose mumbling completely fails to engage.
Although the advent of HBO means that the phrase “made for television” has nothing like the stigma attached to it that it used to, it still seems to be the most fitting in the case of this film.