Two years after Vinnie Jones hung up his boots, the heartbeat of the Crazy Gang ditched professional football for the hills of Hollywood, via some incredibly type-cast roles in a variety of indie Brit flicks.
Barry Skolnick’s Mean Machine (2001) was actually Jones’ fifth movie role.
Was Vinnie’s performance well received? Hmm, how to put this delicately…No.
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert described Jones’ first lead performance as
In this remake of the Burt Reynolds film The Longest Yard, the film follows the story of a disgraced England international footballer, Danny ‘The Mean Machine’ Meehan.
Danny ends up in the clink after drink-driving and assaulting a police officer. You have to give it to the writers, that does seem entirely plausible.
In the 2020 version, it’s a total recast only using Premier League talent – don’t tell me it doesn’t make sense.
Danny Drinkwater as ‘Danny Meehan’
Vinne Jones playing the hard man footballer makes a lot of sense in 2001. However, football-wise, he wasn’t actually that good. To drag around 10 convicts against a semi-professional side, you need to be elite. Look no further than Danny Drinkwater. Title-winner with Leicester, England international, loves to headbutt teammates and loves a drink. Case closed.
Adama Traore as ‘Trojan’
Played by Robbie Gee, Trojan never passes the ball, much to Meehan’s chagrin. If we’re looking for the Premier League equivalent, Adama Traore sets new standards. The Wolves man’s barely believable dribbling stats illustrate his reluctance to pass plus the Spaniard’s ridiculous physique also means he’ll fit the Trojan character nicely.
Jordan Pickford as ‘Monk’
A hooligan keeper played by Jason Statham has all the hallmarks of Jordan Pickford. You and I know that Jordan’s favourite filmstar is Jason Statham. Pickford’s other credentials include his penchant for a scrap, his ‘get the rave on’ personalised football boots, and the occasional clanger he’s prone to.
Sead Kolasinac as ‘Mouse’
The Arsenal man fought off knife-wielding thieves – need I say more. The Bosnian was born for this hardman defender role.
Tom Huddleston as ‘Raj’
Omid Djalli’s performance as Raj blends skill, technique and a severe lack of movement. Huddlestone ticks each box – phenomenal ability on the ball and
Jack Grealish as ‘Chiv’
Chiv is a skilful and creative midfielder with long hair that’s got some gel in it. Reductive or perceptive – you be the judge.
Alberto Moreno as ‘Cigs’
Cigs scores an absolute worldie that is questionably ruled out for offside by the linesman. Cigs doesn’t really have much of a role apart from that scene so Alberto Moreno gets the shirt after his incredible goal against Newcastle that didn’t count.
Phil Jones as ‘Billy Limpet’
Danny Dyer plays the mal-coordinated Billy Limpet that scores the winning goal. While Jones has yet to have such a defining moment, his ability to contort himself and get in weird, unnatural positions makes Phil the only choice.
Sean Dyche as ‘Charlie Sykes’
Charlie Sykes is bald, has a goatee and is the manager. Sean Dyche is bald, has a goatee and is a manager. Sometimes one plus one equals two.
Set in the fictional Longmarsh Prison, Danny has to navigate the guards, the inmates and his own mental psyche.
The film lacks realism so, in the 2020 remake, Drinkwater’s gets sent to Joey Barton’s former prison and sees the state of the game that the former midfielder left it in.
(PRODUCTION DEVELOPMENT: Sources can confirm that Joey Barton has just been hired to play Drinkwater’s assistant manager, replacing the ineffective Sammy Lee.)
Gambling on the Game
Prison mob boss Sykes sees the game as a racketeering opportunity to place bets on the game. However, in 2020, it wouldn’t just be an opportunity for Sykes – it’s an opportunity for the whole gambling industry.
Nowadays, [insert rapacious betting company here] would swoop in, sign a lucrative deal with the governor, sponsor the kits, put in interactive advertising hoardings, offer accumulators on everything from the goalscorers to the number of corners and finally, live stream the match through their app.
There are plenty of questionable decisions throughout the concluding match. Cigs’ disallowed goal, Meehan seemingly going off for over 20 minutes with no substitution needed and the continual red cards challenges going unpunished.
For [insert rapacious betting company here], it would be an unmitigated disaster to have such disarray playing out live in front of millions. These gambling companies are marketing gurus so who do they bring out of retirement to keep order? That’s right, Howard Webb.
Webb might let the odd karate kick go unpunished a la Nigel De Jong in 2010 but armed with a few Stockley Park officials and VAR, this dream matchup should run without a hitch.