A fittingly messy series about the intersection of football violence, organized crime and politics that just about works.
This review of Puerta 7 (Netflix) is spoiler-free.
Every time there’s an international football (soccer) tournament, we’re reminded again and again how intrinsic violence and hooliganism are to the sport’s culture. That’s a bad thing, obviously, but it has historically produced some great British media on the subject, and the rise of some national stars – Danny Dyer shot to fame on the back of Football Factory, and Charlie Hunnam cut his teeth as a swaggering firm leader in Green Street – can be directly attributed to the allure of football violence. It’s a topic that has gone off-boil in recent years, but Puerta 7 (Netflix) is something of an antidote to that dearth, providing a decent eight-episode series set in Argentina and focusing on the intersection of hooliganism, organized crime, and politics.
It’s a slightly more complex tale than these things typically offer, too. While you have the requisite blood feud between rival gangs exacerbated by an attack on a local leader, there’s also a parallel plot involving investigations by and the security of the football club itself, which is an unusual and welcome angle, and it intertwines with the expected business quite nicely.
An expectedly messy jumble of characters and conflicting subplots can leave Puerta 7 feeling a bit alienating, but the overarching thrust of the narrative is simple enough to keep track of. Naturally certain elements and threads work better than others, but that’s par for the course in a show like this, and while it’s clear that criminal dramatics are of the most concern, efforts to include some romance and intrigue are appreciated.
Less welcome is a steady pace that can occasionally slow to a crawl, especially during the midpoint of the story which feels the most obviously padded. The show sometimes has a tendency to pretend it’s much more sophisticated than it really is, and also to assume that its basic character interaction is more engaging than is perhaps reasonable, but virtually every series on Netflix is overlong if you think about it. Puerta 7 has enough good ideas to sustain an audience across its first season, and its positioning at such a fertile intersection of topics does it some real favors. Ultimately with Puerta 7 Netflix has scored a goal, only one in a pretty inconsequential friendly.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.