Mean Machine was released in 2001, but all who have seen it likely had a great feeling of deja vu. You see, writer Charlie Fletcher had lifted the story from an earlier film, The Longest Yard. So, just like that previous Burt Reynolds film, Mean Machine told the story of prisoners forced to play a match against evil prison guards.
Only in Mean Machine, the prisoners must play the guards in soccer rather than American football. But then again, the audience had already seen that film before too, only it was called Victory. Unlike that Sylvester Stallone abomination, Mean Machine is at least intentionally humorous, though it is still pretty much cliched drivel.
Vinnie Jones, one of the greatest enforcers in the history of the EPL, plays the lead role of a soccer star incarcerated for assault (not a stretch for Jones, as life recently imitated art when he was charged for assault arising out of December 2008 bar brawl in South Dakota that started when someone called him “that guy from X-Men”, no joke).
Vinnie’s character is an ex-England captain who let the nation down by fixing a match during the World Cup (which is more of a stretch because Vinnie played for Wales and never made it to a World Cup). Of course, he agrees with the warden to fix the match against the guards too, only to later change his mind and lead the cons to victory.
Jason Statham of The Transporter fame also appears in the film as one of Jones’ fellow inmates, a violent con who just happens to be better at soccer than Steven Gerrard. The soccer scenes are at least shot reasonably well, but overall this flick is as predictable as they get (probably because we have all seen it before, twice). All in all, it will keep you entertained but it won’t enrich your life. I wouldn’t watch it again. Well, unless Vinnie Jones made me, of course.