London bobbies come face to face with their own personal hell as they go undercover to root out soccer hooligans in i.d., a raw-steak drama that packs a wallop when it’s on form but suffers an intermittent i.d. crisis of its own in the script department when it comes to delivering the psychological goods. Pic reps a promising but flawed feature bow by TV actor-director Philip Davis.
Central character is John (Reece Dinsdale), an ambitious cop in his late 20s who’s intro’d grilling a suspect in a police interrogation room. Under the leadership of the quiet, taciturn Trevor (Richard Graham), he and two others (Philip Glenister, Perry Fenwick) are assigned to root out the leaders behind a wave of thuggery that’s gripped supporters of (fictional) second-league London team Shadwell Town.
Dramatic focus early settles on John and Trevor, who pose as Shadwell supporters. To discover the top boys, they need to start drinking at the Rock, a tough East End pub.
Under the guise of local workmen, the duo get to know the barmaid, Lynda (Saskia Reeves). But as John gets further into this violent, self-contained universe, he finds it harder and harder to shut down during off-hours.
Dinsdale is excellent in his gradual transformation from clean-cut cop to longhaired troglodyte, and the copious scenes of pub drinking and tribalistic rituals of ‘belonging’ carry an almost tangible threat of violence that’s right on the money. Reeves, looking and sounding uncommonly like a young Billie Whitelaw, is very good in a rare working-class outing.
Pic’s violence is shockingly real as much thanks to the excellent verisimilitude of casting as to the (relatively little) blood on display. Several interiors in the German co-production were shot in Hamburg, to no loss of effect.