2.5 out of 10

Released: 9th March 2012

Director: Danny Donnelly

Cast: Adam Deacon, Leo Gregory, David Ajala, Nichola Burley, Liam Donnelly, Billy Seymour, Bronson Webb, Sir Geoff Hurst, Alex Esmail and Anna Popplewell


Not too much to report on this utterly gormless Adam Deacon (KIDULTHOOD) vehicle. His character “K” in the recent comedy Anuvahood is 100 times more streetwise than his premier league footballer on display here.  After hitting the big league, Jerome thinks its time to treat his former friends from the streets to few nights out.  In no time at all, ruler of the roost, Baron (David Ajala – OFFENDER) sees an opportunity to extort money out of the ever dopey Jerome.  With physical threats to himself, his mother and brother who have never left the endz, what will Jerome do? How far can he be pushed by his former friends before he snaps?

Oh my days, where to begin.  Any good points? Well its a nice attempt at giving the UK street gang tract a bit of a twist, but this suffers from mis-casting.  Adam Deacon isn’t a bad actor by any stretch but not once was I convinced he was a professional footballer at the pinnacle of his career.  A person in his position would surely be more resourceful and this kind of extortion would be nipped in the bud relatively quickly and harmlessly by members of his staff or the football club.  In Payback Season the scenario is dragged out to the hilt because our lead is too dopey to realise that his brer are fleecing him.  David Ajala as Baron is better cast.  After a string of tiny roles in Offender and Adulthood he gets to shine as the unreadable Jerome.  His large eyes and easy smile may trick someone who had been under his wing for years. His leadership qualities are easy to recognise.  Elsewhere in the cast we have a mixed bag of good performances to the terrible. Leo Gregory needs to get a better agent, after his break out performance in the crappy Green Street he’s never made a bound up the ladder and judging from his shrug of a performance as disposable best friend that ascent is overdue.  Sir Geoff Hurst appears as a sporting agent, why I don’t know. Useless. As for the women and Baron’s crew, they aren’t worth the typeage.

A vaguely original so-what of a movie? Adam Deacon proves himself a confident performer and with his joint and very different lead roles in this and Anuvahood I’ll continue to keep an eye out for his movies.  But on the whole this is a rotten little film about leaving your past behind.  Success is good. The people in your past are all jealous and will exploit you at the drop of a hat.  Dubious messages. Poor movie.

One great performance from David Ajala, a competent lead role for Adam Deacon, OK idea, nice unpredictable ending, poor script and some very bad acting consign this to my ‘give away’ pile.

So first person that asks me for my copy can have the DVD for nothing.

2.5 out 10 – The lamest Britpic about football I’m yet to see.

LOOK IN THE COMMENTS BOX or BELOW for JOE PESCI II’s delightful counter review which also scores 2.5 out 1o.



One thought on “PAYBACK SEASON

  1. Just as the past catches up with Oedipus, his own arrogance and privilege failing to shield him, so Adam Deacon’s Jerome Davies is lifted high before being dashed by fate, his past, and his loyalty. Such is the Olympian tale that may have unfolded in Payback Season if it wasn’t such a turgid, juvenile waste of celluloid.

    Oh, Premiership Football! With your fast cars, loose ladies, endless opportunities for clubbing, buying houses for your mum, and showing off to your mates/bruvs/crew! What could go wrong? In fact, if Payback Season is in anyway an accurate portrayal (though I suspect it may not be) you don’t even have to bother with any of that silly football-playing mullarkey. I don’t think we see Deacon even in shot with a ball, let alone kick one, even though he is the latest big thing in football and potentially England’s next star. ‘I’m at work!’ he complains when his erstwhile crew/posse from the streets turn up during a training session. Not that he’s done any training, he’s too busy sorting out business. True, that business involves being blackmailed by the leader of his posse/gang, the crazily jealous paranoid psychotic violent psychopath Baron (an interesting turn from David Ajala, who was either intense nervous energy personified or someone being told contradictory things by a clueless director). Nevertheless, would it have hurt to have Deacon do a press-up or two? He’s a charismatic lead but is given little to do and ends up looking an idiot. Now, maybe this is the producer’s plan. Maybe the film is really a satire on how the Premiership (with a capital P) has become divorced from the beautiful game itself. Maybe they’re saying that football, the people’s game, has been perverted by money and greed. Perhaps, by showing a hero so out of his depth he doesn’t even kick a ball in a moment of solace they are saying ‘look at the wasted potential here’. Maybe this is an angry film, bemoaning our attractions to the surface glamour and excesses that Premiership Football represents.

    Somehow I don’t think so.

    For a start, the excesses on show: an expensive pair of sunglasses and a flash car. That’s it. Our hero fails to indulge in any of the indulgences you’re meant to indulge in. He drinks little, takes no drugs, he’s not much interested when women are throwing themselves at him. In fact he does next to nothing. All he does is mistake his friend’s threats for his own generosity. And yet he pays a surprisingly grim price. The ending is quite surprising, but I suspect it’s only because the film-makers couldn’t work out how to get Davies out of the hole he tripped into. The ending is not earned: a hard luck tale rather than tragedy. Maybe that explains the snippet of footage of Fabio Capello which plays incongruously at the end. Or maybe that’s meant to remind us of the football bit of the film.

    There is also a mild feminist agenda to the film in that it shows a world where most football journalists are women. OK, they look like they should still be at school, and have the worst dialogue in a film bursting with poor dialogue. Sadly, the acting is even worse. Though none of the male cast excel, Nichola Burley is outstandingly bad though this is not helped by her character having no character at all. ‘You’re almost in my good books’ she says to our hero after he’s stood her up. How so? The film also has a commendable no-nudity policy, so all undressed people (mostly female) are seen in very sensible underwear, as in the (unintentional) comic highlight of the film

    where Leo Gregory as the best friend brings round some ‘birds’. Poor Gregory, he’s probably really good but is wasted, though it is good that his character does have some involvement in football as a physiotherapist (as evinced in one scene where he does some physiotherapy).

    There are other links to football. I am no football fan so I may have missed numerous in-jokes and references. One joke that I did spot was the presence of Geoff Hurst (a good footballer in his day apparently) as Davies’ agent. He’s not an actor so I won’t criticise his performance, but I utterly and unreservedly condemn to painful death the idiot who thought it was a good idea to cast him. Maybe they thought it would be instructive to have a representative of the golden generation (Sir Geoff won a World Championship in the 60s I believe) standing in ironic contrast to the hopeless Herbert that is our hero, thus providing a moral framework with which to view events. This is baloney. The moral is that everybody is out to get you, especially if you grew up on the mean streets with bruvs and people called Social. Or maybe it’s that it doesn’t matter what you do really because something will happen to you so why bother? Either way, it’s an odd set of conclusions, particularly as the film feels like it should have a ‘message’. There is something extremely amateurish about the whole thing, and it initially plays out like a bad schools programme. Even when it deals with ‘adult’ stuff it feels juvenile; it’s like an eight year old smoking. The film proceeds for some time with no swearing, then suddenly there’s a little explosion of it, inevitably from the street gang/hood. The violence (‘brutal’ according to the DVD blurb) is painful in the wrong way. I suppose being whacked in the face repeatedly with a kettle would be painful, but the filming here is just comedic. The slow motion attack on a drug dealer’s flat is just weird.

    Highlight: when one of the gang/brood spot Jerome’s face on the back of the newspaper. His face lights up like a candle. It’s the worst ‘delightful surprise’ acting you’re likely to see in a long time, if you make the mistake of watching Payback Season.
    2.5 out of 10 – JOE PESCI II – 3RD OCT 2012, bruv

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