What Is It All About?
Football fans and extremism go hand in hand in Shadwell. Young police officer, Mo, has to infiltrate a group of fans to find out their intentions and begins to be pulled into their dangerous ways … its time to say “I love you Gumbo” all over again!
The Hughes Verdict!
In a era where Film Studios have decided to revisit past glories with the likes of Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Independence Day all having a sort of remake/reboot follow ups, here comes one of the biggest surprises for film fans, a return to the football terrace with the Shadwell Army.
Unlike now, where football hooligan films come out on DVD on a weekly basis, In 1995, ID was released with only Gary Oldman’s quite brilliant The Firm as its early basis of a blueprint. The film back then was and still is my favourite of the entire genre. Standout performances by the likes of Reece Dinsdale, Warren Clarke and Claire Skinner and a meaty plot that packed more punch than the hooligans could ever manage, ID was a brilliant film of a man whose promising cop career dwindling thanks to his undercover role and his new found love for violence.
The last time we saw the Shadwell Army, the fighting still raged while John (Dinsdale) had gone all skinhead and totally lost the plot. It was always an ending that made me want more and I would have loved nothing more than if this sequel carried on, 21 years later and seeing where our favourite fallen Policeman was at this stage of his life.
Wisely or unwisely, it depends on how you think of the film, ID2 moves away from its original premise and into a new but somewhat familiar path with a new young cop Mo (Simon Rivers) going undercover and trying to bring down the most famous of football fans. The difference this time is that Mo is a Muslim, so we have that added racial issue which while the film demonstrates cleverly at the beginning, never really hits home its point, despite a few passing moments.
Before the inexperienced Mo goes undercover, with the order coming from non other than Trevor (Richard Graham) – a man who has clearly made his way up through the ranks over the years- its another member of the original gang that gives him advice into how to become a fully fledged member of Shadwell Army and that is Eddie (Perry Fenwick) who is no longer on the force but now a stand up comedian. His “you got to fuck like a dog!” speech and knowledge doesn’t really make much of a difference, but its nice for the fans to see these old characters again, even though its with sadness that the writers never managed to get Dinsdale back in any capacity, even though he is briefly mentioned now and again!
While the direction and acting is superb, the script really stops ID 2 from being something special. Underneath the tones of racial politics, the film falters in many aspects. The lack of scenes where the Shadwell fans are actually in a football stadium watching their heroes is unforgivable and totally goes against what a Football hooligan is, also unlike John’s plight, we fail to get any ounce of sympathy for Mo as he does some questionable things, most notably an ill judged love triangle offering that made him almost unlikeable in terms of what type of man he is. Any guy who is more than happy to sleep with a fellow officer’s wife, automatically made me lose any sympathy for him.
ID2 tries to copy its original successful formula but fails to really engage. In a time where the likes of The Football Factory and Green Street have all been released to much fanfare and love from fans of this genre, a sequel to ID needed to offer something new and fresh. Its all very well placing a new officer in the same surroundings and bringing back fan favourites like Gumb0 (Lee Ross) to appease the old audience, but in 2016 and with tensions on the streets in a high state as it is, you feel that the film misses a massive opportunity to be something special.
A hero Muslim cop going undercover and trying to blend into a largely racist bunch of fans is the right template that could have made this long awaited sequel a must watch, but the film never goes down the dark path and always stays in the safe position. Even the fight scenes lack the violent punch that make hooligan films stand out from the rest. As the film progresses the more sillier it gets and when we get to the climax, what is offered is a laughable finale that infuriates when it should thrill.
To sum up the standard of the sequel we can only think that in the next 21 years, ID 2 will be forgotten, while its original will still be remembered as a film of its time, born in the middle of the 90’s when football was rife with fighting.
The year 2016 will be known as the year of the Brexit and the fear of change in the streets of Britain which is awash of violence and tension, the fact ID2 fails to capitalise with this knowledge, especially with its male lead, makes this football hooligan film a bit like England in the Euros…… all show, but with a sheer lack of quality and somewhat toothless in its finish!
ID2: Shadwell Army is available to rent and buy right now