Never has the city of Newcastle, in the north east of England, looked better than in this run-of-the-mill sporting fairy tale. Shot on location at Newcastle’s St James Park and other English Premier League grounds, the movie contains some of the best simulated action sporting images ever seen on the big screen.
The story starts off in LA, where talented footballer Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker), son of an illegal immigrant, is discovered by ex-Newcastle player and scout, Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane). Foy arranges a trial for Santiago at the legendary Newcastle FC, but only if he can find his own way there. Munez’s father Hernan (Tony Plana) thinks this is a pipe dream, and urges Santiago to concentrate on building up the family business.
With the help of his grandmother, Santiago makes the big step and leaves his family behind in search of fame and fortune in England.
The initial scenes of Santiago trialling with the Newcastle reserve squad are brilliant. The weather is as bleak as you could possibly imagine, and the hardened pros make Santiago’s life a misery by hacking him down into the mud at every opportunity.
The support cast are a fairly predictable bunch; the party boy star striker, the dour old pro who resents the newcomer, the love interest nurse who doesn’t usually get involved with the players, the humourless coach – you get the picture. The plot is tight, though not particularly exciting, and what the movie lacks in terms of storyline it more than makes up for in the action and excitement of game day.
GOAL! was filmed with the cooperation of FIFA and contains cameos from some of the world’s leading players, including Beckham, Zidane, Raul and Shearer.
The movie is beautifully shot and has a killer soundtrack (though I’m not sure if the good folk across in Manchester will be that thrilled with having their boys Oasis featuring so prominently in a Newcastle-based movie).
If you enjoy the world game, this is a worthwhile way to spend a couple of hours.
My rating: ♦ ♦ ♦