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The Football Factory Review

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Tommy (Dyer) is a football hooligan who likes nothing more than getting drunk, getting high and having a punch-up in the name of Chelsea. However, haunted by a recurring nightmare of an impending severe beating, he begins to question his dodgy lifestyle and the company he keeps.

★★★★

Released just before Euro 2004 , any film about English football hooliganism was, frankly, about as welcome as Victoria Beckham performing at Alex Ferguson's birthday party. Yet despite the decidedly controversial subject matter, Nick Love's adaptation of John King's 1996 novel provides much more than just bullyboys kicking the crap out of each other.

Scratching beneath the initially unnerving surface, you'll discover a film that's less concerned with football violence and more intrigued by the destructive nature of male bonding, the male ego and male discontentment. The anticipated displays of violence are brutal, but they are both infrequent and counterbalanced by the astonishingly brazen and laughably hapless conduct of an array of aimless characters.

The script's pace is well judged throughout, as the story flows from moments of dark comedy to scenes of disaster with little forewarning. The cast is mostly impressive; Dyer comfortably portrays Tommy with a befitting laddish swagger, while Neil Maskell delivers a subtle performance as his best mate, Rod. Importantly, Love has managed to craft a film that is fond of its characters yet withdrawn enough to never condone their exploits.

An impressive 90-minute performance from all involved. With the story of misguided male bonding around their love for football and fighting, the film is like a mixture of Trainspotting and Fight Club.