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An orphaned Jamaican baby, adopted by an elderly white couple and brought up in an all white area of London, became one of the most feared and respected men in Britain. CASS grew up in a time before political correctness and was forced to endure racist bullying on a daily basis, until one day when the years of pent up anger came out in a violent burst. CASS found through violence the respect he never had and became addicted to the buzz of fighting. His way of life finally caught up with him when an attempted assassination on his life, saw him shot three times at point blank range. His inner strength somehow managed to keep him alive but he was left with a dilemma; whether to seek vengeance as the street had taught him, or renounce his violent past. Written by
Disappointing latest entry into the 'football hooligan' movie genre
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
A film highlighting the true story of Cass Pennant (Nonso Anozie) a baby born to a Jamaican mother who was raised by a white working class couple who's doorstep he landed on. The film charts his youth getting his first taste of football violence in it's heyday of the early 70s, through to a decade later when he was leading London's top firm The ICF (Inter City Firm) into battle, which ended up getting him a lengthy spell in jail. He came out and tried to turn his life around, getting into the nightclub doorman business, but his past caught up with him and after an attempt on his life, he turned his back on his old life for good, and is now respected as a renowned author.
After the true life story of Carlton Leach was documented in the woeful misfire Rise of the Foot Soldier, Cass arrives trying to do the same thing with (black) ICF leader Pennant. "The Football Factory meets This is England" a praise caption (for want of better phrasing) proclaimed when I first saw the poster for this. Okay, already I was thinking 80s Britain, Thatcher, hooliganism, a bit grim. I wasn't disappointed in this respect, but in others Cass did disappoint me quite badly.
For a film that's ended up on the big screen, the film looks remarkably cheap, like it's more suited as a TV film than here. Up until the end, for some reason director Jon S Baird has shot his film in a grainy, blurry style that you can't help but notice. Maybe this was to help give off a feel of how bleak and grim life in England during the 70s and 80s was, but it didn't come off as too subtle with me. The use of stock footage from old news reels showing the football violence also didn't help in this respect. But aside from this, the film goes to great pains to dramatize Cass's life story veering away from any exciting football action, but rather than involve us in the end the film has come off more as dull and boring unfortunately.
The film benefits from an undeniably fine lead performance from Anozie as the titular character, an articulate thug with a lot of pent up anger in him but who also has an intelligent side that comes to be his guiding light. He does try and justify his actions at points by blaming them on Thatcher, as when talking about his clashes with police at games, saying 'they were her army versus ours' without realizing no matter heavy handed they might have been, they were trying to stop violence rather than cause it. Nathalie Press as the girl who becomes his wife tries hard but her voice is rather annoying and grating and this put me off a bit. Leo Gregory, who was also in Green Street, is good in a supporting role as Cass's mate. Tamer Hassan does his usual glaring, quietly menacing hardman act and Dennis Pennis himself Paul Kaye also does well as the man behind Cass's shooting. Performances wise, there's really nothing wrong with the film, it's in other areas it lets itself down.
The distributors picked a stupid time to release it, as it really didn't stand a chance at this time of year, up against bigger films like The Dark Knight, the new X-Files film and The Love Guru. I remember seeing a little feature on it on the news, which now makes me think it was just desperate for any publicity it could get. It had about one showing time when I went to see it, but the theatre was packed and it seems to have had a stay of execution for this week too, so maybe it'll do better than it seemed.
It's not awful by any means, with some strong performances and an interesting story, that sadly came off as dull rather than how it should have. **
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