Warning: the British gangster movie of the late 1990s is trying to make a comeback. Rise of the Footsoldier climaxes with fevered speculation over the same unsolved Rettendon Range Rover murders that inspired 2000's Sean Bean flop Essex Boys, having tried, and failed, to pass itself off as an insightful alternative history of Britain from the mid-Seventies to the mid-Nineties. The source material is the autobiography-cum-self-justification of one Carlton Leach, soccer hooligan-turned-nightclub bouncer-turned-career criminal, a progression that moves Julian Gilbey's film from sub-Football Factory rumblings through the rave era (big insight on Ecstasy: "the drugs were breaking down social barriers") to tangles with Craig Fairbrass, never an especially good idea. It's the usual form - actors from The Bill and Holby City knock one another abaht, shooters go off, much claret is spilled - but this time stuck with unintentionally hilarious narration ("The firm was Craig's life. Without it, he had no sense of direction") and a stop-start structure that makes it even harder to suffer such unsavoury characters. As with his debut, last year's Rollin with the Nines, a certain energy suggests Gilbey may yet get around to making a good film if he could only find a story worth telling, but Leach's isn't it, and it's probably best if we evacuate cinemas showing Rise of the Footsoldier until it goes away.
A third film in the series, Rise of the Footsoldier 3: The Pat Tate Story, opens in cinemas this Friday.