Mindless, violent, shocking, and two-dimensional this may be, but at its heart, there is an honesty about what it is, and a desire to please its fans. Judge it for yourself.
This review of Rise of the Footsoldier: Origins is spoiler-free.
Taking a leaf from the MCU, you have to admire the staying power of this violent British gangster franchise. Have a guess: How many Rise of the Footsoldier movies have been released since the first one in 2007? Well, the latest entry makes five. If, like me, you may have not noticed these films, that number could surprise you, but here we are at the end of 2021, and we are getting another offering from Nick Nevern and the creative team behind the cult franchise.
This story tells us of the incidents that lead to the events that transpire in previous Footsoldier films, hence the subtitle Origins, and it appears that there are plenty of nods to the fans of the series, as characters from previous outings are fleshed out and the initial meetings of the cast are revealed.
The main focus of this story is Tony Tucker, and we see him returning from the Falklands War and making a name for himself in the violent world of nightclub security and drug dealing. Of course, things start to derail, as Tony becomes more and more embroiled in the underworld of Essex.
This entry is based on true events, just like the first film was, despite the previous two movies being works of fiction. Terry Stone reprises his role as Tony Tucker, but it has to be said that Vinnie Jones, as Bernard, is a stand-out as far as the acting goes. Jones’ very presence seems to elevate this film, and you have to admit that he plays this type of villain with ease.
With an ensemble cast, an integrated timeline, and the continuation of a storyline from previous films, it’s easy to see the comparisons that could be made with the MCU. There’s even a post-credit scene that reveals even more about the relationships between some of the recurring players, and the production team is smart to incorporate these elements to show fan service to their audience, and it seems that there is definitely an audience here.
The film itself probably ticks all the boxes that you would expect in a Footsoldier movie. There is plenty of over-the-top violence, and let’s face it, nobody can bring such colorful language to the screen quite like the modern British gangster movie. It’s enough to make Tarantino blush, yet it is thrown around so casually that you almost start to overlook it.
As far as the overall production goes, there is a larger budget on show than I would have thought, and there are some nice set pieces that almost stray into Ritchie territory, but on the downside, some of the acting comes across as very wooden, and Terry Stone’s wig kept throwing me for a loop, as it made him look like 2nd Doctor Who actor Patrick Troughton.
On the whole, this film has been made to please the fans of the previous ones, and it does what it says on the tin, supplying origin stories for some of the later cast in the series.
If you come to this expecting The Godfather, then you will be disappointed. These Footsoldier movies seem to have amassed a following all of their own, making them somewhat critic-proof. Anyone throwing their money down to watch this already knows what to expect, and they probably won’t be let down by it either.
This is not high art or delivering any unique social commentary, but it doesn’t pretend to be doing that in any way, shape, or form, and the ultimate fate of the cast pretty much leads to a downbeat ending that reminds us drugs are bad.