The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan, from writer/director Paul Tanter, is the latest in a line of movies showing cockney geezer football hooligans getting themselves into crime filled drama. Green Street, The Football Factory and countless others have gone here before with stereotype heavy skin head characters, guns, sex, violence, and an overabundance of the words fuck and cunt – this is not new territory, but it’s not necessarily all bad.
The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan certainly starts off well, Mike (played by Nick Nevern) is unemployed facing poverty and forced to take on a job for his friend Eddie, heavily concerned that delivering ‘merchandise’ is to do with drugs he has little choice but to do it anyway. Thankfully, for once, the crime is not about drugs but rather a pretty massive credit card scam – entertainingly unique for this sort of British crime drama. Things escalate pretty quickly and Mike is transformed from footie hooligan into ‘white collar criminal’ running credit card scams, and generally living it up with £1000 a night parties. The interactions, the accents, the general laddishness of it all is entertaining and funny, at least in the beginning – if a little tired and repetitive, this has become a bit of a stock ‘British’ market for films and it’s all quite similar.
Unfortunately it starts to go down hill as the crime drama unfolds and Mike works his way further up the ladder getting completely out of his depth. The story then devolves into the usual tiresome cliches, murky violence, general thuggishness and just gets a bit messy. Mike, and to a certain extent Eddie, is likeable enough as the main character, you get the sense he doesn’t really want to be doing this but it’s easy money and he’s got a bit carried away – when he’s first introduced to the credit card scam he’s quick to point out it’s still stealing, he’s got morals.
All the usual elements are present; there’s some non-linear time jumping, voiceovers that explain the job or where it all went wrong, plenty of shots of football induced riots, with every second word of dialogue being fuck and every third word being cunt – you know standard London dialect… But there are also some nice touches, introducing the geeks behind the scam is quite funny, and there is some genuinely entertaining banter. The fact that this probably had quite a low budget never really effects the movie, it just feels intentionally gritty. The editing jumps quickly, cutting abruptly from scene to scene which keeps the pace quite fast which works well and the film never really feels like too much of a chore even in the murkier second half where the stereotype crime and gangsters come in.
The movie never resorts to getting too dark and the ending is quite satisfying, you feel like people get what they deserved for the most part. All in all The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan doesn’t break new ground and doesn’t deliver anything particularly fresh or exciting but if you’re a fan of crime movies with a hooligan theme then chances are this won’t disappoint.
The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan is out on DVD July 2.