It’s difficult to know what is the most amazing thing about the Rise of the Footsoldier series. Either its continued existence (seriously, who is watching these?) or the fact that, from a starting position of utter turpitude, the movies actually manage to get worse with each instalment. 

From minute one, this series about Essex career criminals has been unpleasant and tedious, but the more recent episodes have begun to scrape the barrel of genuine ineptitude. You might assume that the fourth one: Rise of the Footsoldier: Marbella, was actually some sort of self-parody, such is the complete lack of competence with which it presents itself, but that would necessitate crediting it with any degree of imagination or humour. As it is, it’s cheap and witless, but it’s also a grimly depressing watch that treads a well-worn and surely shit-strewn path of gangsters, geezers, and birds living it large on the Costa del Crime. 

For a glimpse of the wit and invention on show, it’s a movie which features, across its 85 minutes, 70 instances of the word “cunt”, which works out at once every 72 seconds, on average. That’s to say nothing of its perhaps three or four hundred uses of the word “fuck”. 

Use of profanity is, generally, not even something to which I take offence. In this case, it’s the obviously smug sense of satisfaction under which this movie operates. Writer Will Gilbey and director Andrew Loveday clearly think they’ve created some archly anarchic, jocular piece of zeitgeisty fluff; a great piece of post-pub banter for the lads, never once stopping to think about the consequences of this nasty dross. 

The plot, such as it is, sees Pat Tate (Craig Fairbrass), released from prison following the events of the previous movie, should anyone remember it, only to find the supply of pills in Essex has run dry. So, he jets off to Southern Spain to tie up loose ends, crack heads and score a massive load of ecstasy to peddle to kids in his nightclub. And that’s it. The mechanics of who betrays who and to what end don’t matter a jot. Nothing is of consequence, whatsoever. This is all just an excuse to soak up the sangria, wave guns in each other’s faces and enjoy the sunshine. It makes more sense, not as a piece of art, but as a tax write-off, expenses-paid, six-week working holiday to the Mediterranean. 

This is a group of characters that revel in violence, abuse, theft, murder, drug abuse, and sleaze; but a movie which has precisely zero to say about any of it beyond instructing its audience to guffaw appreciatively. It’s a world in which men are men, enjoy a bit of Charlie at breakfast and know how to handle a shooter. It’s one in which women exist only as trophies and who get sexually aroused by intense physical violence. 

What’s perhaps most depressing is this leaves the door ajar for another instalment. Please, Pat, no more. Just take early retirement to Andalusia and enjoy your ill-gotten pension in peace, without subjecting the rest of us to any more of your tiresome Estuary thuggery. 

Dir: Andrew Loveday

Scr: Will Gilbey

Starring: Craig Fairbrass, Terry Stone, Emily Wyatt, Andrew Loveday

Prd: Tiernan Hanby, Andrew Loveday, Terry Loveday, Roland McIntyre, John Palfrey Smith, Terry Stone

DOP: Stuart Nicholas White

Country: UK

Year: 2019

Runtime: 85 minutes

Rise of the Footsoldier 4: Marbella to buy on Digital HD 23 December and DVD 6 January, 2020