By: Trevor Chartrand
For full disclosure, Rise of the Footsoldier: Vengeance, is the sixth film in an action/crime/thriller series that I am, admittedly, unfamiliar with.
Bearing that in mind, entry number six in the Footsoldier franchise is mostly accessible, with a few caveats of course. An outsider could jump into this film without being too lost. Near as I can tell, this British series features a lot of timeline jumps from film-to-film (much like the Fast and Furious series), where most of the newer films are prequels set before the events of Rise of the Footsoldier (2007).
This film opens with Kenny (Josh Myers) and Tate (Craig Fairbrass), two criminal mercenaries (the titular Footsoldiers, I guess?) fleeing the authorities after a robbery gone wrong. Having failed miserably on the job, Kenny is reprimanded for his impulsive actions. To make up for his mistakes, Kenny is determined to find a new job in order to pay back his employer. To help him succeed, he recruits Billy the Kid (Ben Wilson), a cross-dressing drug dealer with a plan to recoup their payday. When their plan goes wrong, however, Tate must step in to clean things up.
As a newcomer to the series, the film is confusingly structured with Kenny at the forefront, the apparent protagonist of the film. He makes mistakes in the opening heist, and his mentor Tate coaches him. We see him sweat as he struggles to make things right. After spending a considerable amount of time with Kenny, however, the character is written out of the film, replaced by a secondary character – Tate. Tate gets the spotlight for the rest of the runtime. Apparently, Tate is the centre of many of these films, so series veterans may not mind this. Considering this film and its narrative in isolation though, Kenny’s departure is a jarring turn. The reality though is that these story choices demonstrate that in a film like this, the characters don’t really matter – they’re interchangeable cannon fodder.
The action sequences in the film, while competent enough, aren’t exactly innovative or eye-catching. Fight sequences in the film are framed properly and are easy to follow, which is a good start. Ultimately, however, the action in the film is mostly forgettable. On a more positive note, Rise of the Footsoldier: Vengeance has a decent soundtrack at least, so there’s something to tap your toes to.
As far as plot-driven action films go, this film ultimately blends in with most standard action fare. Rise of the Footsoldier: Vengeance is average at best: the narrative is bland, and the characters are simply surface-level. Frankly, while it’s technically fine and well-made, it reminds me of the generic action flicks my father often falls asleep to on Sunday afternoons.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor