Director Nick Love knows how to pick up a poisoned chalice. In choosing to tackle a modern day take on Alan Clarke’s 1989 The Firm
, he risks the wrath of upsetting those who regard the original so highly, while also being accused of jumping aboard the remake bandwagon. As it turns out, though, he gets away with it all.
Love’s version of The Firm wisely uses the early film as inspiration rather than a firm template. Thus, while the setting remains underground football violence, Love switches the attention to a different character, the youngster breaking into the crowd. This allows the narrative to focus on his becoming accepted by the group, and then his struggle to break free, which settles into a solid three-act story.
It’s very much aimed at an adult audience, but that doesn’t mean that The Firm is a cheap piece of cinema. Far from it, as it happens. Love’s film mixed in sharp violence with sparks of humour, and does so to very good effect. In the process, it sidesteps comparisons to the original by simply going off in a different direction, and works well because of it. It’s a little more tempered than some of Nick Love’s earlier work too, but perhaps as a consequence, it’s also his best film to date. --Jon Foster
Alan Clarke's 1989 seminal tale of football hooliganism in Thatcher's England is transposed to the early '80s in this creative remake. The film follows Dom (Calum McNab), a young man caught up in the enticing world of firms--football gangs who make merry and spar with the supporters of rival teams. Bright and funny, Dom is easily welcomed into the ranks by the firm's leader, Bex (Paul Anderson). But as Dom is drawn into the escalating violence of his clique, he decides to back out. Doing that, however, is easier said than done. Written and directed by Nick Love, who made the similarly themed The Football Factory, The Firm's greatest departure from the original is following Dom--a relatively minor character in the original--rather than Bex, originally played by Gary Oldman.