It?s difficult to follow light when all your surrounded by is darkness.
Directed by Nick Nevern,?Rise of the Footsoldier: Origins?follows Tony Tucker (Terry Stone), a soldier who has just returned from the Falklands War. Struggling with an inner rage, Tony manages to start his life over as a nightclub bouncer. Things begin to change for Tony though when he connects with a small time drug dealer and, eventually, Pat Tate (Craig Fairbass) and Craig Rolfe (Roland Manookian). As he falls deeper into Essex?s criminal underworld, so too does Tony?s life spiral out of control, leading to the Rettendon Range Rover murders of 1995.
Set against the brutality of British criminal enterprises, Rise of the Footsoldier: Origins is an unrelenting and bloody battle for control and power. As a prequel to the already well-established franchise, Footsoldiercontinues to explore the history of the Essex underworld and violent icons such as Carlton Leach, Pat Tate and Tony Tucker. Whereas the series began focusing on Leach, the last three films have taken the opportunity to explore the rise of Tate and Tucker before the Rettendon Murders of 1995.
To get it out of the way, it?s undeniable that Origins is as brutal and bloody as the rest of the franchise. Throughout its five films, the Footsoldier franchise shows Essex as a place of darkness, exposing its seedy underbelly as night falls. In this world, justice takes the form of a gun or a solid pair of fists. In this way, Originspulls no punches, featuring vicious beatings, murder and violence. Although there are characters we come to like, we are never meant to feel at ease here, as every corner seems to produce another threat. The British crime world has been the subject of many films, often more comedic in nature (such as Guy Ritchie?s Snatchand Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). However, Origins has no such interest. This is a brutal representation of this corner of the world that showcases the darkest impulses of humanity.
Although he?s featured in other films in the franchise, Origins provides Terry Stone the opportunity to step into the limelight as a central character of the franchise film. There?s always been a certain likability to Stone?s character, even in his darkest of moments. As a result, by telling the story through Tony?s perspective Origins looks at how easily one can be corrupted when immersed in a world of darkness, even if their intent is to do good initially. As the film opens, we see him jump into a fight to rescue a young man, simply because it?s the right thing to do. Beginning as a bouncer, he appears to be someone who is liked by many for his willingness to keep the peace. However, as he and Pat Tate begin to collaborate, Tony?s world becomes darker and more sinister. Honour gives way to money and power. While we still hope for Tony?s redemption, the road becomes darker along the way.
Hope lies fleeting in these?Origins.
Interestingly, the brightest spot in the film may be Vinnie Jones, as the violent but proper bouncer, Bernard O?Mahoney. Jones has made a name for himself playing imposing brutes. (Let?s not forget that he was once Juggernaut in X3.) Yet as Bernard, there?s a mysterious charm about his character that makes him fun to watch. While Bernard is always willing to throw a punch when necessary, he refuses to lose sight of what is important. Although he is complicit in many of Tony?s criminal activities, he is neither the driving north behind him nor supportive of them. To Bernard, keeping the peace is driven by integrity, not power. However, as the film unravels, even he gradually loses his influence and power in the face of an expanding criminal syndicate.
In Essex, darkness falls heavily.
Vicious and violent,?Rise of the Footsoldier: Origins?showcases man?s darkest impulses when faced with the opportunity to do so. Nevertheless, although he?s been broken by the events of war,?Origins?wants us to view Tony as more than just another drug dealer. As he scratches and claws his way up the criminal ladder, so too we mourn his fall as he slowly drowns in the darkness that encompasses him.
Rise of the Footsoldier: Origins is available on VOD on Tuesday, April 12th, 2022.