Goal III: Taking on the World

goal 3

I wasn’t a fan of Goal II, the follow-up to a spirited original, but Goal, the Third makes the second outing of this football franchise look like a veritable masterpiece. There’s little to defend in this movie, which is almost a complete departure from the first two films. The only things that link it with the others are a soccer ball and the brief appearance of Santiago Muñez (Kuno Becker), which is forgivable had this actually been a good movie. Instead, it lives up (or down) to its direct-to-video reputation with mawkish performances and a script more suited to a British soap than a film.

Most of the story focuses on English players Charlie Braithwaite (Leo Gregory) and Liam Adams (JJ Feild). The audience is asked to believe that they are Santi’s best friends while Gavin, Santi’s hard partying teammate from the previous movies, doesn’t merit a mention. The hasty friendship jolts the trilogy’s dynamic, and Santi’s interactions with Charlie and Liam miss the playfulness and camaraderie earned from years of supporting each other on and off the field.

From the start, Santi seems like the outsider, just tagging along as the trio head off to a film set where Charlie has a small part in a gothy vampire B movie. Charlie immediately strikes up a relationship with his costar Sophia (Kasia Smutniak) and in a matter of weeks, the two are engaged. More good news arrives when he and Liam learn they have just been named to the 2006 World Cup national team.

Life crashes to a halt, however, when the friends get into a car accident that sends Santi out of World Cup contention for Mexico and out of much of the movie. It also has devastating consequences for Charlie, who has everything else going for him. Liam gets away mostly unscathed, but he soon learns that has a young daughter from his previous relationship with June (Anya Lahiri). He goes back to the bottle as he deliberates how he should handle his new role.

Meanwhile, the World Cup, which should be at the center of the story, threatens to drown in all the melodrama. The characters seem only marginally invested in soccer, and while they get the biggest stage, their stories don’t justify the immensity of the tournament. The reliance on stock footage added with some truly shameful green screen show where the filmmakers’ priorities lay. The only ones who demonstrate true passion for the sport seem to be the roving band of superfans, background characters from the first movie, who chase their team around Germany. At least they mimic the intensity of fans’ devotion to soccer, even if their attempts at sitcom humor fall flat.

Goal III is a sad ending to the series, which might have better focused on Santi as an established star on the European circuit. This one won’t satisfy the football fans, or anyone who appreciates a good movie, but if it sends you back to the first film where the dream began, then that will be a very good thing.

Released: 2009
Prod: Mike Jefferies, Matt Barrelle
Dir: Andrew Morahan
Writer: Mike Jefferies, Piers Ashworth
Cast: JJ Feild, Leo Gregory, Kuno Becker, Nick Moran, Tamer Hassan, Kasia Smutniak, Anya Lahiri, Christopher Fairbank, Gary Lewis
Time: 92 min
Lang: English
Country: United Kingdom
Reviewed: 2014