In 2007, the successful and enjoyable low-budget movie Rise of the Footsoldier launched a series of films known as the Footsoldier franchise. These films were known for showcasing a specific type of British gangster movie, with a focus on violence and lacking in diplomatic solutions. Some of the Footsoldier films feature fictionalized versions of real-life drug dealers Pat Tate, Tony Tucker, and Craig Rolfe, who were found dead in 1995 after being shot at close range in a 4×4 vehicle in a peaceful area of Essex.
The new documentary seeks to delve into the details of the infamous “Range Rover murders”, which have been surrounded by conspiracy theories and wild speculation. Director Trevor Drane has gathered a diverse group of individuals to uncover the complex web of relationships and backgrounds among the network of criminals, reformed criminals, former bouncers, and generally shady characters that dominated the tough guy scene in 1990s Essex. Despite some individuals now being credited as “Essex Criminals”, the majority of the film consists of interviews with these individuals, while also utilizing on-screen graphics to connect them to prominent figures like the Kray twins whenever possible.
The overall result is similar to spending time at a pub with friendly men sharing stories of the past. The worlds they describe may not seem highly appealing, but they speak of them with fondness. The issue is that while the events being discussed were undoubtedly dramatic, the documentary itself is a basic compilation of the different accounts, with a lot of repetitive talk about allegiances, drug addiction, and unwise business decisions. It will certainly interest those who have closely followed the case, but others may end up feeling that they would have been better off watching the 97th installment of Rise of the Footsoldier instead.