Hooligan Legacy full movie review - Slick, Competent, just only slightly lazy
Hooligan Legacy is another example of the current 'Hooligangster' phase of the hooligan genre that is a refreshingly individual, if flawed, work.
Though it would be nice for a film with the word Hooligan in the title to be about hooliganism for a change, what is delivered here, like other 'Hooligangster' joints, is not exactly the antithesis. The rhetoric between these 'Footsoldiers' is convincing and faithful to the genre Legacy rents out, as is the malicious and distinctly un- American violence throughout. If anything, Legacy's aptly judged adoption of the Hooligan shows up more of the creative bankruptcy of British film distributors rather than that of the filmmakers. Don't get me wrong, there are some right androids out there making images move in this arena (Near anyone from the Press On Illuminati), but director Nicholas Winter and writer Terry Lee Coker, so far, are not part of such company.
What Legacy really is at it's core is a surprisingly atmospheric splice of Jacobean revenge and Michael Mann's Heat all wrapped up in a comfortably proved blanket of 'boot boy' posing an' pushing. The stadium siege does gangbusters in upping the production value, near textbook perfect as to how to make micro budget look mid. The wide tracking shots upon the football pitch really are something. But unfortunately, they do go a way towards dwarfing the rest of the picture. Whilst there is a diversity of locations, the look of Legacy does slip into that tired and inappropriate kitchen sink drama 'brick and mortar' mode more than once. Noticeable, but not painful, as for the most part, Legacy does a fine job of hiding the production's fiscal limitations.
Seriously, I really haven't seen a micro budget British genre film look so slick since Stephen Reynolds' Vendetta (2013). It's quite fitting for this 'hooligangster' phase of the genre with it's shameless Hollywood aping, relying on establishment aesthetics and story lines as a way to vie for space in the ever increasingly competitive market of home cinema.
As you could tell by now though, the story is not really that interesting as i have chosen more to harp on the film's impressive cinematography. It's not an inept script though, just simple, near stubbornly at that. The lushness of the visuals would suggest a deeper story as such attention is usually reserved for art-house works, but no, a short paint-by-numbers revenge tragedy.
As such, the performances should pack a punch, which most do not unfortunately. There are some highlights such as the gun vendor scene and the fleshed out back and fourth dynamic between 'hero' and 'villain', leading to an abrupt ending, not (unsurprisingly) like Hyena (2014), that whilst not near as rich in emotion as in Johnson's instant classic, was still deserved.
I liked Hooligan Legacy, and you should too if you are a fan of either the hooligan or gangland genre or if you are just interested in moody genre pictures in general. It contains just enough of the spirit of the Hooligan genre to justify it's namesake. However, just going by the trailer, it's no surprise that it veers more into crime thriller territory.
What a depressing scene British genre film finds itself in. Genre film appreciation has always been a case of too little, too late i understand, but i guess just because it's so close to home that I find myself especially irked. The expectations remain low and the demand is shrinking. Film's like Legacy give me hope for a thriving populism in British cinema where domestic audiences would be actually excited to see domestic products. However, Hollywood beckons always for any talent with at least a lick of universal appeal. Is the domestic "industry" too gated? Is it too secular? Who knows. All i know for sure is that these films, ready, willing and commercial, are not part of the established mode of filmmaking in this country (they're practically counter-culture!) and that is a serious problem.
The "industry's" priorities are on art and not commerce at a time when cinema's relevance in pop culture relies almost solely on revenue. Hooligan Legacy seems to be one of only a handful of films being made in this country in the 21st century, and for that, let alone it's apt tone, gorgeous visuals, and at times assured direction, makes it an admirable feat of filmmaking when it really should just be impressive.