I’m no film critic although it has been known for me to be highly critical of many films. I’m a bit fussy at the best of times and well aware that my own taste in movies is far from mainstream. In fact the last film I really enjoyed was entitled ‘All is Lost’ and starred Robert Redford alone at sea on a broken yacht and featured no dialogue or other cast members whatsoever. In short I’m probably not the fellow to consult on which Fast and Furious incarnation is best to watch and whether Sylvester Stalone should produce The Expendables IV and ‘Final Score’ is certainly in that genre.
It has also not escaped my attention that all action hero Jason Statham is currently starring in a film about a giant shark that makes Jaws look like a feisty sardine. As I understand it the film revolves around a Megladon (fortunately the producers have dumbed the title down to ‘Meg’) who’s intent on eating everything a vegan wouldn’t and Mr Statham will somehow come to the rescue I’m sure. If you can detect a hint of sarcasm in my words then that is because I’m sarcastic and also can’t stand action films and the modern obsession with Superhero flicks.
So when I sat down to watch ‘Final Score‘ I was anticipating a tedious hour or two. I was expecting lashings of cheese, tacky one liners, a musclebound hero and explosions. . . . . . . lots of explosions. I was fully aware of what may lay ahead of me but the solitary reason I tuned in was because the film was located in West Ham’s spiritual former home. I was watching for nostalgic reasons and to see how much of the real West Ham would come through in the film.
The answer was very little although although early in the film we were treated to an unexpected cinematic shot of the Boleyn pub from behind statue of Mooro & co. Clearly the stadium featured heavily and whilst I couldn’t care less about spoilers (do they even count in action films?) I’ll play nicely and not give away too much.
In short West Ham are playing a game of football against some team called Dynamo Rovers Athletic and shortly after kick off the Boleyn Ground is hijacked by nasty men and an unpleasant (albeit not unattractive) woman. Our hero (played by a WWF wrestler) has 90 minutes to save the 35,000 fans inside the stadium who are at risk from a giant bomb placed in the corner of the Bobby Moore and West Stand.
If you wish to know any more then you’ll have to watch the film but at the end the bomb does explode and it’s this scene and the credits that followed which prompted me to write one of these very rare blogs.
You see this is not Lord of The Rings where clever CGI was used to destroy an imaginary castle with Orcs and dragons. This was a real explosion which ripped the guts out of the actual BML and surrounding areas and as it did so I felt gutted. It was nothing to do with the plot or film and it’s hard to fully describe but it just felt sad and somehow wrong.
My feelings have to be contextualised by our move to Stratford being something of a failure and many of us still pine for our old ground so this seemed like an insensitive demise. Yes I know we’d already left Green Street and the ground was about to be bulldozed anyway but the old girl deserved better and so did we.
I didn’t have to wait long for my melancholy to turn to anger though because shortly after the explosion our brutish hero did his stuff and the film drew to a close. As I watched the credits scroll down my TV screen I very quickly noticed a familiar name which grabbed my attention. The name was David Sullivan and it featured very early in the credits, the title might have been co producer or executive producer but the message was clear. . . . . he had played a major part in the project.
Of course I’d heard rumours that Sully had funded the film but seeing it up there in black and white felt like a betrayal. The movie was produced by a company called Signature Films and the major shareholder of that company is (insert drum-roll here) . . . . . David Sullivan.
To sell our stadium and move into rented accommodation was naughty, to then auction off the fixtures and fittings to the highest bidder was a betrayal. To allow half of the John Lyall gates to reside in former chairman and hate figure Terrence Brown’s garden was just plain wrong as was charging fans £50 for their seat.
However allowing his media company to profit by blowing up the stand named after our most iconic player for the sake of a tacky film was totally crass. It was the final twist of a knife lodged firmly in the fans backs and shows exactly how much that man cares for our history and heritage.
I don’t care that the film was cheesy and predictable, you show me an action film and I’ll show you a movie with a remedial plot and poor acting. The flick was exactly what I expected it to be but the way the stadium was used as a cheap plaything to be passed around and abused was worse than I thought.
This project should never have been rubber stamped and shame on David Sullivan and Sky for exploiting a spiritual arena that meant so much to so many for so long.