When you go undercover, there’s just one thing you better remember – who you are.
Reece Dinsdale (Jimmy from nuclear horror thriller Threads) plays undercover copper, John, part of a squad working to infiltrate a group of football hooligans with links to organised crime. The story, looseley based on a real life undercover police operation from the 1980s, sees John gradually seduced by mob violence, coming to regard the Shadwell Town thugs he’s been tasked to take down as his mates, potentially at the cost of his promising career on the force (or, the Old Bill, as it’s known in England) as well as his happy marriage.
Dinsdale really shines in this movie, as we see him transform from a cocky young police detective, into a vicous, snarling thug. The film is primarily a character study and Dinsdale really steps up, proving himself to be a versatile performer. And across the board the acting is great. For British viewers half the fun is in spotting familiar faces from English films and television and there are plenty of those, including Perry Fewick and Warren Clark. Also, look out for a young Sean Pertwee, who went on to appear in some great films like Dog Soldiers, Event Horizon and The Seasoning House.
I didn’t find ID particularly graphically violent, it certainly lacks the visceral impact of more recent British crime thrillers like Rise of the Footsoldier, but whilst there’s not too much blood, there is a fair bit of brawling and the sex scenes must have been considered quite graphic at the time. It’s a film that makes you think about the nature of the ordinary bloke (or, man), his irresistible tendency towards indispensable masculine virtues (mainly sex and violence) and how women and society seek to put us in boxes, boss us around and deny us our basic primal inclinations. Why masses of people enjoy watching pouting, over-privileged, millionaires kicking a ball around a field is and probably always will be beyond me, but the attraction of brawling and hooliganism makes considerably more sense if you think about it, especially after watching this.
The film spawned a 2016 sequel, which has mixed reviews, but the original is generally considered to be a landmark and a classic. Certainly, for me, Dinsdale’s impressive performance propels this from a 7 to an 8 out of 10 movie. Oh, and the end is quite a shocker, so watch this without spoiling it for yourself first.
8 out of 10