The Rise of the Footsoldier franchise returns to soak the streets in crimson once again with its latest bone-crunching chapter, Rise of the Footsoldier: Vengeance. Landing as the sixth installment in the ultra-violent British crime saga, this entry sees the comeback of OG antihero Pat Tate as he embarks on a ruthless quest for retribution in 1990s London.
Reprising his iconic role, Craig Fairbrass is back with a vengeance as the ruthless gangster, supported by franchise veterans Jamie Foreman and Stephen McCole. With Nick Nevern also returning to the director’s chair, there’s a sense of back-to-basics for the series here as Pat Tate steps out on his own, separated from regular partners-in-crime Roland Manookian and Terry Stone. When a deal goes south and one of Tate’s loyal footsoldiers meets a grisly end, he heads out to paint the town red in their honor.
What follows is a brutal yet engaging tale tapping into familiar Footsoldier themes of loyalty, revenge, and slice-’em-up action sequences. Bathed in neon and filled with larger-than-life characters, Vengeance brings its own distinct flavor while staying true to the gritty roots that fans expect. With the creative team doubling down on practical effects and dynamic fight choreography, prepare for some wince-inducing violence balanced with surprising heart found in a subplot involving an aspiring boxer.
Strap in for another adrenaline-charged descent into London’s criminal underworld, where the iconic antihero Pat Tate lets his fists and firearms do the talking on his personal path of destruction. This chapter may just be the bloodiest yet.
A Simple Revenge Premise Dripping in Blood
Centered on Pat Tate’s ruthless quest for payback, Vengeance keeps its narrative lean even as the body count piles up. After a botched robbery that kicks things off, Tate’s partner Kenny decides to get into the drug game against Pat’s advice. When a deal engineered by Billy the Kid goes violently awry thanks to a ruthless Soho kingpin, Kenny ends up brutally murdered, his body desecrated.
This ignites a fire in Pat Tate, who sets out on a warpath to avenge his fallen friend. As Tate dives into the seedy criminal underworld, he discovers betrayals run deep and trusts no one in his single-minded pursuit of vengeance. The writers smartly keep the plot simple, letting Tate’s rampage and violent showdowns take center stage. We follow dual tracks – Tate hunting down Kenny’s killer, and Billy hiding out in fear as things intensify. It’s an engaging structure highlighted by well-executed action.
The writers maximize tension not through complex threads but rather raising the stakes for Pat Tate chapter by chapter. With cops on his tail suspecting his involvement in a robbery, a mob boss calling in debts, and enemies at every turn, Tate starts to feel the walls close in even as he rains down hammer blows of vengeance. It’s a lean, brutal, straightforward crime story – and an effective one.
Things move at a fittingly fast clip once Tate really starts crushing skulls. The carnage hits hard and often but avoids feeling repetitive thanks to slasher inspirations and some unexpected heart in Billy’s subplot. A few references to past chapters in the saga feel shoehorned in, briefly interfering with the forward momentum. But by the climax, a sense of Shakespearean-level tragedy takes hold through the simpler narrative.
By keeping the thrust of the story centered solely on Pat Tate and his vengeance crusade, the creative team mostly dodges inconsistencies and holes while crafting an engaging, high-octane crime thriller. Laying waste to all in his path, Tate leaves a trail of destruction that propels us through a lean, tightly-paced narrative dripping in violence and bad intentions.
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Larger-Than-Life Performances Raise the Stakes
Vengeance succeeds largely based on the iconic antihero presence of Craig Fairbrass’ Pat Tate, a legendary hardman out to honor his friend the only way he knows how – with blood and fury. Reprising his signature role for the fifth time, Fairbrass inhabits Tate fully, bringing gravitas and menace to the grief-stricken gangster. With granite physicality and a penetrating stare, Fairbrass makes it clear that getting on Tate’s bad side spells certain doom.
Yet Fairbrass also reveals surprising range for Tate here, layering in hints of sadness and loyalty beneath the ruthless exterior. We believe Tate is fully committed to his reckless path of vengeance based on Fairbrass’ emotional conviction. Whether taking on an army of thugs or quietly dwelling on losing his trusted ally Kenny, Fairbrass brings a striking intensity, with Shakespearean-level rage just barely contained behind his eyes. It’s a towering performance that fills the screen.
Of the supporting cast, Ben Wilson also makes his mark in his first major film role as aspiring boxer Billy the Kid. Bringing sincerity to scenes both in and out of drag, Wilson earns our sympathy as he navigates divided loyalties and high-risk drug deals gone wrong. He serves as an affecting counterpoint to Tate’s constant carnage, with both leads ultimately sharing bonds of friendship and devastating loss.
Veteran actor Jamie Foreman (Layer Cake) also impresses amongst grizzled mob bosses and gang lieutenants as the slimy but influential nightclub owner Sam, who enables Tate’s violent ambitions. Meanwhile rapper ArrDee surprises in a notable big-screen debut as Billy’s concerned best mate.
But make no mistake – this is Craig Fairbrass’ show through and through. Towering over all like a force of nature, he makes PAT TATE an icon of brutal retribution and misplaced loyalty. Surrounded by an up-and-coming supporting cast, Fairbrass brings the fireworks befitting a legendary street antihero, leaving destruction in his wake.
Hard-Hitting Themes Backed By Neon Nihilism
Remaining true to the gritty roots of the franchise, Vengeance keeps its thematic focus narrow even as the scale and spectacle heighten. At its bloody core, this is a treatise on loyalty and the dark lengths one will go to avenge a fallen friend. Pat Tate embodies these themes, conveying palpable grief for his lost ally Kenny that fuels his relentless violence and pursuit of payback at all costs. His philosophy is simple – loyalty must be repaid in blood.
This nihilistic perspective casts a gloomy pallor over proceedings even amidst the neon sheen. Director Nick Nevern douses the frame in red and blue hues backed by smoke and grime, crafting a stylish vision of the London underworld that pops off the screen. But for all its visual pop, make no mistake – this is a dark descent into mob loyalty and the high price of vengeance.
Like Tate, the world around him feels icy and uncaring as former friends become enemies and our antihero finds himself isolated in his quest for retribution. Gallows humor and profanity-laced dialogue help leaven scenes that otherwise border on oppressively bleak. Surprisingly though, Billy the Kid’s subplot allows more heart and humanity to peek through as it explores themes of found family and being true to oneself.
While broadly familiar franchise ground, Nick Nevern brings a more refined sensibility to the cat-and-mouse games, italicizing themes through vivid color play and narrative parallels between Tate and Billy’s struggles. Where past entries skewed overly brash andsimple, Nevern instills Vengeance with a stylish nihilism – cold, angular, and unflinching yet not without empathy for loyalty stretched past the breaking point.
Bursting with pessimistic flair, Vengeance brings the franchise’s trademark grit into starker relief, backing a simple narrative of friendship and retribution with an icy sheen where life comes cheap but bonds between brothers-in-arms are sacrosanct – even if expressing that loyalty leaves the streets flowing red.
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A Feast for the Senses Backed by Killer Beats
Helmed by returning director Nick Nevern, Vengeance stands out visually within the Franchise thanks to neon-drenched cinematography and camera work that pops with style. Awash in red and blue light often diffused through smoke, the film conjures a hyper-real vision of 1990s criminal London. Dynamic tracking shotskeep us close on Tate’s rampage while playful snap zooms underscore moments of extreme violence.
Shooting extensively on location, Nevern takes full advantage through narrow depth-of-field to keep backgrounds stylistically blurred. This helps obscure any distracting period inconsistencies while lending scenes a vivid and cinematic quality. Clever lighting design heightens this effect – whether traversing the red-bathed haze of a basement drug lab or stalking enemies through the hellish blue glow of a strip club, atmosphere oozes off the screen.
And that atmosphere is perfectly complemented by the killer soundtrack, an aggressive mix of 90s classics like “Heaven Knows” by Austin Howard and deep cuts spanning punk, grunge and hip hop. High energy tracks energize fight scenes while ominous score builds tension between brutal beat-downs. From uptempo adrenaline rushes to somber emotional moments, the music choices align expertly with Tate’s inner journey.
If some era details betray the film’s budgetary limits, editorially it feels seamless. Nevern crafts an enticing visual style from the smoke and neon that underscores the nihilism permeating the narrative. Combined with the banging soundtrack curated by franchise veteran Jonathan Skinner, the audiovisual assault pops at every turn even when heads start caving in.
Drenched in striking colors and vibey tunes, Vengeance delivers the vivid atmosphere and brazen style missing from too many contemporary crime thrillers. Nevern directs with flare and passion, transforming the London streets into a sensational backdrop for this hard-hitting story of loyalty and retribution.
Hard-Boiled Dialogue Delivers Gut Punches
Boasting a script by Andrew Loveday and Jason Maza, Vengeance represents some of the strongest writing of the franchise. Keeping things fast-paced and lean, they nail the criminal underworld atmosphere through sharp dialogue laced with gallows humor. These characters speak bluntly, profanely, and colorfully – tough guys who prefer using their fists first.
We get potent flavors of this hard-boiled attitude right away through Pat Tate and his crony Kenny. Their back-and-forth pops thanks to streetwise slang and deadpan comic beats. Loveday and Maza have a strong handle on these quick-witted criminals who default to threats or violence when challenged. Even side characters get cleverly scripted moments, like Stephen McCole’s angry Scottish father decrying his son’s “poofy nonsense.”
Strong dialogue peppers the bloody action at every turn – whether it’s Tate grimly declaring his intention to “bathe in their blood” or an antagonist pleading fruitlessly for his life. Balancing savage wit with gut-punching drama, Loveday and Maza produce satisfying crime fiction. Their script sings thanks to avoiding repetitive threats or unnecessary exposition – no small feat given the film’s simple revenge premise.
If anything, the references and call-backs to previous franchise chapters feel most extraneous and tacked on. Vengeance mostly succeeds on its self-contained narrative merits, with the connective tissue to other entries coming across inorganic at times.
Yet on the whole, Loveday and Maza pen a love letter to British gangster films with their razor-sharp dialogue, fully capturing the harsh unforgiving tone of criminals who solve problems with fists and bullets rather than words. Backed by Fairbrass and company fully committing to these gritty characters, it’s just the kind of hard-hitting writing this genre demands.
The sharp and savage dialogue hits home in Fairbrass’ hands, making Vengeance an engaging crime story where talking tough preceeds the rough stuff.
Raising the Bar While Setting Up Next Chapter
Landing as the sixth film in this explosively violent franchise, Vengeance stands out through sleek style, writing maturity, and undergoing an unexpected evolution. While staying true to the gritty saga’s brutality and themes, director Nick Nevern brings a more refined sensibility compared to past entries which often skewed towards simplistic schlock. Backed by slick cinematography and neon-noir atmosphere, he expands the series’ tonal palette even while delivering the expected face-smashing goods.
Writers Andrew Loveday and Jason Maza also surprise by introducing an affectionately-rendered gay subplot involving Billy the Kid – quite progressive compared to representations in prior outings. So while Vengeance trips over occasional narrative callbacks trying to over-fit into Franchise lore, Nevern and team mostly succeed on their own stylish merits rather than relying on fan service.
And crucially, they still leave things open for next chapter. The tragic climax seemingly sets up a future driven by other series players like Stephen McCole’s angry Fergus seeking his own vengeance for wrongs done by Pat Tate here. So while this installment carves its own distinct niche, the door remains tantalizingly cracked for successors – hopefully of this higher caliber.
Sleeker, smarter, and more affecting than one might expect for its body count, Vengeance evolves the franchise without betrayal. If this team reunites, they could produce something genuinely special building on foundations laid here. For now, we receive a satisfying entry staying faithful to core elements while expanding what an Footsoldier film could be. The saga’s future looks bright and bloodsoaked if Nick Nevern gets to put his stamp on it again.
Bloodier and Better Than Ever
After five previous films of varying quality, the Rise of the Footsoldier franchise reaches an unexpected new high note with Vengeance. Combining franchise trademarks like torrents of claret and bone-crunching fisticuffs with sleek neon visuals, affecting character arcs, and a propulsive central performance from leading man Craig Fairbrass, this chapter delivers with brains, brawn, and plenty of blood.
For both longtime fans and newcomers, Vengeance balances well on dual tracks. Most obviously, it provides die-hards the graphic violence they expect while seeing iconic antihero Pat Tate at his most ruthless. Fairbrass inhabits the role completely, conveying palpable rage and grief propelling his personal warpath. Supporting turns from franchise vets build a sense of legacy.
But director Nick Nevern and writers Andrew Loveday & Jason Maza also craft a stylistic crime story that stands firmly on its own. The emotional Tate/Kenny friendship, Billy the Kid’s engaging subplot, vivid atmospherics and overall maturity suggest a creative team intent on delivering more than just another slice-and-dice chapter. They expand possibilities for the series at the same time as they expand skull fractures.
That’s why the sporadic franchise overtime feels unnecessary – Vengeance confidently justifies its own existence. Nevern establishes firm directing chops while Fairbrass reaches new depths as an ultraviolent antihero. Their collaboration shines brightly enough without leaning on fan service or lore. The heightened emotional stakes provide enough impetus for Tate’s bloodfeuds and the concluding carnage powerfully conveys the story’s messages on loyalty and vengeance.
So whether you’re a longtime fan down for more cranial eruptions or a genre newcomer seeking a compelling crime story, Rise of the Footsoldier: Vengeance delivers in spades. It continues the gritty saga while suggesting even greater potential for these characters under Nevern’s guidance. One hopes he gets another round to further make his mark and continue this upswing taking the franchise firmly into the 2020s.
Because on the strength this entry, the prospect of more hard-hitting Footsoldier films has this reviewer thirsty for a repeat dose of adrenaline-spiking action. Vengeance sets a new high bar drenched in neon and claret – bring on chapter seven!
Rise of the Footsoldier: Vengeance
With Vengeance, the Rise of the Footsoldier franchise reaches new heights, combining series trademarks like graphic violence and a towering lead performance from Craig Fairbrass with slicker visuals, unexpected heart, and a propulsive style courtesy of director Nick Nevern. This sleek crime thriller balances franchise fan service with self-contained merits, continuing Pat Tate’s brutal saga while suggesting a bright blood-soaked future.
- Strong lead performance from Craig Fairbrass as the iconic Pat Tate
- Slick and stylish direction by Nick Nevern with neon-noir visual flair
- Entertaining performances from supporting cast like Jamie Foreman
- Lean, propulsive narrative that balances plotting and action
- Excellent hard-boiled dialogue and gritty writing
- Killer soundtrack and score heighten the action
- Satisfyingly brutal and crunchy fight choreography
- Sporadic era inaccuracies betray the budget
- Occasional distracting franchise-related continuity
- Supporting characters could be more developed
- High body count limits connection to some deaths
- Certain plot threads left unfinished
- Light on story complexity compared to visual craft