Next Tuesday the curtain rises on what will likely be the final act of an engrossing biopic trilogy set in Los Angeles. To date, it has been equal parts expectation and intrigue; the story has weaved from the sun drenched hills of Hollywood, through the foggy streets of old London town, and via the cutthroat politics and fashionistas of modern Milan. As most of LA anticipates Captain America being the smash hit of the summer, one corner of the City of Angels is hoping it will be a blockbuster year for the Lord of Leytonstone. That’s right, Beckham’s back, baby!
It has been hard to ignore the previews that have been doing the rounds all winter. Once more our protagonist was pictured in amongst the simple, hard-working folks of Olde Londonee Towneee. Testing the limits of his physical and mental powers against some nippy weather and a bit of rain, whilst holed up at St. Tottenham Hall for Chaps. The sequence was two parts Rocky training montage, one part Harry Potter. We catch a glimpse of the charm that keeps us coming back for more, as the ever youthful David buys his teammates at St. Tottenham’s his favourite boyhood meal of Wet Pie and Chips. All set to that provocative pub-piano soundtrack.
It was a highly anticipated reintroduction to the character of David ‘Becks’ Beckham. Over the course of this four-year, going on five, cinematic franchise, the LA fans have experienced a veritable rollercoaster of emotion, perched on the shoulder on this Cockney Colossus.
Who can forget the exuberant opening scene of the first film? The dramatic twelve-minute sequence begins as we hear the pulsating crowds of the Santiago Bernabéu on the final day of the season. From a black screen we cut straight to the glistening hero in spectacular low-angle, wide shot, poised to strike another perfect free kick. The crack of his boot is echoed in the audible crack of the goalposts as the ball smashes into the net! El Galáctico (as the Madrid fans know him) scores five goals, the final one reducing the goalposts to dust. As he strides from the pitch to his personal jet (that he pilots himself, of course), players beg him to stay. He turns to Madrid manager Fabio Capello, uttering the infamous line: “I might be back! See you in New Wembley!” Capello bursts into tears.
Admittedly, the first film is more style over substance. Heavily choreographed action sequences string the narrative together, including the infamous ‘epileptic seizure scene’; a ten-minute sequence of paparazzi flashes, as Sir Becks is introduced to the adoring masses on the steps on the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Then came the darker, brooding second film, a much more tempered and complex character study. The honeymoon is over. Beckham’s head is turned by Milan, but then ditched and left to face the music back in LA, where jealous fans tug at his insecurities. Will he play? Won’t he? Part-time player, or part-time movie star? Then the crushing disappointment of injury ends the dream of getting thumped by Germany at the World Cup. Beckham cuts a lonely figure on the England bench, wrapped behind a grey three-piece of angst and despair. His external world physically reflecting his internal struggle. Will SuperBecks tear open that Marks and Spencer suit of servitude, to reveal a hero’s spandex and cape? I think we all hope so.
And so the anticipation builds for what the conclusion will hold for our hero. Will he emerge to lift the new Galaxy Galácticos from the back streets of Carson, to the pantheon of MLS gods? Or, in a trendy new twist, is our hero set to go out on penalties in the semi-final to Sporting Kansas City (but learn a valuable lesson along the way)? Depending upon how these final storylines are resolved, will determine the lasting impression of Becks of Beverly Hills and whether his American experiment will go down as a classic of modern sports cinema, or just an empty, over-hyped merchandise exercise.