The Tuesday XI

Remaking Victory Edition

Yesterday we argued in favor of a remake of Victory, the 1981 soccer film featuring a team of Allied POWs playing a match against the German national team. Today, we’re remaking the team, which in the original featured everyone from Pelé and Bobby Moore to Co Prins and Hallvar Thorensen.

There are a couple of guidelines we decided to follow:

  1. We’re casting actors in both the Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone roles. That does not mean Vinnie Jones.
  2. We’re going to try to stick to some semblance of rules with regards to historical accuracy. In Victory, Stallone’s character flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force, while Pele’s Luis Fernadez was from Trinidad and Tobago, as Brazil hadn’t yet entered the war. That means no Spanish, no Brazilians, no Portuguese, no Argentineans, and obviously no Germans or Italians are going to play on our Allied team. Don’t fret too much about missing out on the prides of Barcelona and Real Madrid: Messi would have needed some Super Soldier Serum to enlist anyway, and Cristiano Ronaldo would be the least convincing POW ever.
  3. Like the original, we’re going to branch out into the Allied nations and look for more than just English players. We’re also going to cast a mixture of current and recently retired footballers. Unlike the original, we are going to make use of some of our Eastern Europeans.
  4. We’re lining our squad up in a 2-3-2-3 metodo formation, which appears to be what Caine’s Capt. Colby has drawn on their chalkboard during training.

GK – Mark Wahlberg – Forget his soccer bashing past; where would the sport be in this country if we never converted anyone who ever had a negative thought about the game?

Wahlberg’s perfect for this role as Hatch, the ignorant American who has to learn to be a goalkeeper so he can lead the team on their escape. Unlike Stallone, whose best roles were always understated, Wahlberg has the ability to be bombastic and disagreeable without being annoying, to push up against the predominantly British power structure that is the prisoner’s world in the camp without becoming grating.

Looks like a POW to me.

FB – Nemanja Vidic – In the original, Colby requests a contingent of Eastern European players be placed on his team for humanitarian reasons: he’s trying to get them out of their labor camps, trying to save their lives. They sit on the bench during the final match against the Nazis, but none of those players end up actually playing, the implication being they’re too malnourished and worn down by their time in the camps to contribute.

The game today though is more multi-cultural, and Vidic a famous enough face to warrant inclusion. Besides, it’s fitting to include some Eastern Europeans on our squad, as the true story Victory is ever-so-loosely based on happened to the Ukrainian team of Dynamo Kyiv.

FB – Sol Campbell – We get a (recently retired, whether he admits it or not) classic English center-half to play our other defender. Unfortunately for him Sol, like Pelé before him, will be the only black man in all of World War II.

Close enough

LM – Ewan McGregor – The funny thing about Michael Caine in the original Victory is that every shot, and there are only a few, in which he actually kicks a ball seems to indicate that he’s terrible at it. He and Sylvester Stallone both had “soccer doubles,” but if you watch the final game, it’s clear Caine’s got a lot more work.

So, with that no talent necessary disclaimer, we’ll pick McGregor to play Capt. John Colby, formerly of West Ham. Ewan’s old enough now to play an authority figure but looks young enough that his playing career could still have been going on when the war ended, and most of all he brings that same sense of mischief Caine demonstrates in everything from Victory to The Dark Knight to The Muppet Christmas Carol.

All footballers-turned-actors should hope for such a role.

CM – Vinnie Jones – He doesn’t get to be one of the leads, but for the work he’s done trying to get the project off the ground, and because he’s always good for a few visual gags.

RM – David Beckham – Alright, so we’re bowing to the inevitable. Alright, so Beckham would be only slightly more convincing as a POW than Ronaldo.

LIF – Zinedine Zidane – Slips nicely into the role of all-time great that Pele filled in the last film. Zidane would be the Allies’ Jimmy Chitwood — (mostly) silent and lethal, lurking forever in the background exuding competence. No matter the shot, he’ll make it.

What's his motivation for juggling?

RIF – Clint Dempsey – Yes, we’re straying from the formula of the original, which had Stallone as the only American. There’s good reason for that formula: the movie’s supposedly set in 1942, before American combat operations truly stepped up in that sphere — Hatch’s back story is that he was flying with the Royal Canadian Air Force. We’re upping the number in the remake, because in 2011 there are American soccer players with the worldwide reputations to merit inclusion, and perhaps serve as additional box office draws. Dempsey wins out because of his popularity and his playing style, which makes him a good representative.

The only problem: Dempsey’s a terrible actor. He’s not even convincing when he plays himself in his Modelo commercials, and he has approximately 2 seconds of screen time in those.

LW – Marc Overmars – An option on the wing who also adds the Netherlands into our Allied Nations quota. We really wanted to go with Bergkamp — we do love him around here — but Overmars is four years younger and a natural left winger.

CF – Miroslav Klose – Wait, hear us out on this one. Klose — Germany’s all-time leading World Cup goalscorer —  has said he prefers to be thought of as European, not German or Polish. His wife is Polish, his mother Polish, and he speaks Polish in his home. There’s no reason he can’t play a Pole in the film, one of the Eastern European prisoners brought in from their camps as part of Colby’s effort to lessen their burden of suffering. Plus, it’d be something of a nice gesture to the Germans.

RW – Brian Laudrup – We wanted at least one other Allied nation to be represented. What, did you think we were going to hire Nicklas Bendtner?

So here’s the squad: 

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One Response to The Tuesday XI

  1. Pingback: A Running Diary of “Victory” | The Other 87

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