RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER 2

5 out of 10

Release Date: 26th December 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Ricci Harnett

Cast: Ricci Harnett, Luke Mably, Coralie Rose, Johnny Palmiero, Joshua Osei, Scott Peden, Nabil Elouahabi, Andy Linden, Slaine Kelly, Tygo Gernandt, Georgia Bourke with Jasper Britton and Steven Berkoff

Writer: Ricci Harnett

Trailer: RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER 2

Rise-of-the-Footsoldier-Part-II-600x873

Sick of films about Essex gangsters? Well, obviously the DVD buying public aren’t. So here we are again. A sequel to answer those wondering what became of former Essex Boys associate Carlton Leach (KILL THE BITCH) after the events of Rise of the Footsoldier.

The answer is not a lot. But saying that Ricci Harnett (TURNOUT) has found his signature role and makes a good job of building up the myth for Mr Leach. He certainly makes his muse proud here, kicking off over small mishaps, being nice to children, horrible to naked ladies and stopping to regret that he’s not the type of bloke to look at rainbows (but he wishes he was – or something). The amount of people that die in this film, it’s a wonder that Leach isn’t buried under the jail, but this is the point isn’t it. These films are built to enthrall, scare and build myths, not so much bore you with facts – see Essex Boys – The Truth that crams in so much detail it would send the average viewer into a coma. So what’s true and what isn’t shouldn’t bother the majority. Is it any good? Well, I’d say it’s quite good as it keeps you watching, it’s a suitable sequel and there’s no dip in quality, so it’s not a cheap cash-in.  The acting’s OK, and the film is cast with stalwarts of the game, although Luke Mably (EXAM) seems a bit bewildered by his quietly psychotic henchman’s torture methods and weird monologue about comparing such methods to listening to pop music on vinyl.

We catch up with Carlton Leach being muscled out of his nightclub, but he’s given a last chance by local gangster to be a debt collector. It’s all going well until one night he has to drop out of collection in Ibiza when his mystery / forgotten son turns up out of the blue. Leach gets to show his tender side in these familial scenes but elsewhere the ‘job’ in Ibiza goes wrong and people die. There are consequences and Mr Leach has to do some fast thinking to get out of the jam or die. Well the ending is daft as ‘comedy vampire’ from The Reverend (2012) shows up once more to overact and send the film back to the bottom of the cheap racks at Asda.

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If you like nude women there are stacks to leer over in this film, but there’s price. You also see Ricci Harnett‘s bum crack. Only a low-budget, megalomaniac actor/director would make us look at his arse crack. Maybe it’s a message to his critics. Or is it a message to Bernard O’Mahoney (ESSEX BOYS – THE TRUTH) who’s been busy discrediting Mr Leach for his direct involvement with the Essex Boys? Who knows? But there you have it crack addicts.

So it’s quiet praise but this is a lot better film than we’ve come expect from the ever growing ‘Essex crime-genre’.  It’s a worthy sequel to Rise of the Footsoldier (there’s no crap wigs in this one). And Ricci Harnett is a good actor in this kind of role. It’s also got a baffling one-scene cameo by Steven Berkoff (THE BIG I AM) as a comedy doctor? Can’t get to bottom of that one.

5 out of 10 – Solid, worthy sequel to the first one. Nothing great, beyond giving Ricci Harnett a chance to walk around in the character that made his name.

Second review down below by Matt ‘Ave a go, mate’ Usher

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER 2

  1. Review by Matt ‘Incursion of the Poisoned dwarfsoldiers’ Usher

    In Simon Gray’s West End play Otherwise Engaged the main character just wants to listen to Parsifal in peace, but is interrupted constantly by niggling nuisances: a moaning lodger, a seductive student, his wife revealing an affair, and a former school friend threatening suicide. Little of which does anything more than mildly aggravate him.

    Which is very similar to the situation in RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER PART 2. Poor beleaguered Carlton Leach. He just wants to settle down with his ex-wife, his girlfriend, his boyfriend and some kids (including a newly-found long-lost son) but problems keep coming his way, none of which are his fault, none of which seem to cause too much turmoil or misery (apart from the unpleasantness which befalls poor Shawn, Leach’s young beau). Mostly these problems take the shape of vicious young thugs who think Leach is a weak old ex-thug. So he has to wearily travel to Ibiza and several other holiday islands and Holland to sort it. Poor lamb.

    Now I say this with heavy heart, immense reluctance and with the proviso that we’re talking about a genre which is hardwired for mediocrity (at best), but the FOOTSOLDIER films are probably the best of the Essex Boy cash-ins, and possibly the best examples of the hooligenre at the moment. That’s not to say that this is a good film necessarily, but it’s among the least bad as far as films about hooligans and under-achieving criminals are concerned.

    For a start the actors can act. Not particularly interestingly perhaps, but everyone remembers their lines, avoids tripping over the furniture, and manages to display the appropriate emotions. Leach is once again played by Ricci Harnett, who also has a go at writing and directing. Harnett/Leach has a signature look (reminiscent of Eastender Ian Beale) where he nods his head down, dead eyes peering out, haunted and miserable. Thus he conveys the sheer monumental futility of life for Carlton Leach. He does this a lot, usually when he’s about to do something bad. (Though, as in the previous film, we rarely see the blameless Leach perform the villainy himself; for some reason Leach is always a step away, as if he wants to be able to deny everything – why this might be I leave as a sarcastically rhetorical question). Coralie Rose struggles as Leach’s (generally ex)wife, but then again the character has little to do other than shout a bit and then look sad. The gang is made up of a bunch of interchangeable faces who just about pass as being a bit disreputable. Chief among them is Luke Mably as Shawn, the object of Leach’s adoration. Harnett was generous enough to give him one of the few proper speeches in the film. Unfortunately it’s a terrible speech about how violence is like listening to a record and Mably is unable to generate the menace that probably ought to be in there somewhere. Leach’s long-lost son is worth mentioning. This poor poltroon is played by Tommy Nash whose strategy is to muster a kind of doe-eyed apologetic version of Harnett’s unhappy stare.

    There are a couple of odd cameos (Jasper Britton chucks himself around a wine bar and does nothing to suggest he’s a leading RSC player; meanwhile Steven Berkoff

    excels at being a comedy-accented Steven Berkoff in a dream sequence which has its own writer credited despite it being all of about twenty seconds).

    Structurally the film’s all over the place, with no over-arching story; it’s just a succession of encounters as poor Carlton finds the world turning slightly against him. It culminates with him having to prove his loyalty to the big boys, which he does by betraying them, which seems to make them happy. Which I didn’t understand, but won’t lose any sleep over.

    As writer/director, Harnett knows what his audience expects and he duly delivers, with the unexpected bonus that the film really does look like a film. But in the end it’s a parade of punch-ups, beatings-up, torture, naked women, drugs floating about like air, idiots spouting about honour, children crying, and Carlton Leach standing there in the middle of it all, unable to control the whirlwind around him, a whirlwind which has nothing to do with him, honest guv.

    But oh the enigma of Carlton Leach! According to the no-doubt thrilling Bernard O’Mahoney exposé (ESSEX BOYS: THE TRUTH) Leach was but a junior member of the Rettendon Boys circle, who has exaggerated his exploits for his own ends. Why Leach would lie is beyond me. Lie about his deep loving relationship with Tony Tucker merely in order to produce a best-selling book, engender a fictionalised feature film franchise and earn the adulation of numerous Darrens* up and down the land? Surely not!

    But what of Shawn, Leach’s new paramour? If the film has a running theme (which, to be honest, it might not) it is the love between these two. Leach would cross a continent for the sake of Shawn, and he does. Their love is shown to be pure, without baggage, houses, children, commitment, or anything like that. Leach’s crisis-ridden marriage is a bombsite, but whenever Shawn is on the scene, he and Leach are as one, a beauteous couple, blessed by a simple shared love of each other and of sorting out slags and grasses. (Legal disclaimer: I am categorically NOT suggesting that Mr Leach is homosexual – after all his marriage(s?) and multi-mothered children prove this beyond any doubt.)

    If the film has a weakness (and, within its own strange world it’s very strong) it’s the absence of those lovable Essex Boys (Tony Tucker forgotten now that Shawn is turning Leach’s head) and the obligatory absence of hooliganism. And the indolence of the story. And the whitewashing of Leach who’s just a cuddly teddy bear really who wants to be loved. Put simply, this is more of the same but better. But still not great. If you like this sort of drivel, this is as good as it gets.

    * see this article http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/apr/02/gangsters-geezers-and-guns-the-men-behind-britains-booming-low-budget-crime-flick-industry for more about the Darrens. Maybe you’re a Darren without knowing it. Maybe I am.

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