The Rack Pack through a foreigner's eyes

17:16:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

BBC's production "The Rack Pack" first aired on Sunday 17th just after the 2016 Dafabet Masters final finished in a pretty abruptly way thanks to O'Sullivan's hunger for some silverware. 

Unfortunately, being a non-UK resident and all that it was impossible to watch its premiere on BBC iPlayer. Luckily though, that changed. Well, I am still a non-UK resident, but the mighty internet is my friend. And so are those who love snooker to bits, just like me.

I am not going to ruin the film for ya and tell you the story, but I am going to share with you what a foreign viewer thinks of it. This also means that I might be wrong, so bear with me here for a minute or two.

As many of you are well aware, the film captures a small part of the "change of guards" from the "Fast & Furious" Alex Higgins and not-so-much-televised snooker to the "Robotic & Most Seriously" Steve Davis and snooker’s boom-era.

I wasn't there when that happened, to hell with it, I wasn't even in the plan, but these past five years and a half I have watched tons of videos and read books about the golden days of snooker. I have listen feverishly to those who have lived those precious moments and fed on each and every word of praise or dismiss.

Luke Treadaway wonderfully playing the role of A. Higgins

A few hours ago I saw "The Rack Pack" and I am pleased to say that it felt like I was there. The drama, the pressure, the enormous change, the fun, the glory, the failure, the marketing plan, the beginning, the end ... everything.

The film manages to capture a small part of an era that has changed so much through the years, that has had such a huge impact on people's life, that has built characters, altered dreams and created an industry that now is struggling to compete with other sports. 

Although a bit romanticised, the film transports you back in the day when snooker on the telly was the real entertainment and the players were just emerging. The "new kid on the block" Steve Davis was taking over Higgins' empire and things were about to hit a rough patch.

As Steve Davis put it so well on Sunday evening, I started watching it with a huge smile upon my face and ended up crying at the end. 

Will Merrick in the role of Steve Davis

The film is following Alex Higgins reaching the top and winning the 1972 and 1982 World Championship, then smoothly introducing the new sensation (aka. Steve Davis), a player which was like no-one else.

He was like no-one else because he was a bit dork-ish (or a bit more), he was well composed, he was focused and set to play snooker by the book. Plus, he had someone who believed in all that - Barry Hearn.

But you already know this by heart, don’t you? So this is where the story makes an interesting turn because for the first time we see the history being told from the point of view of a person (aka. Higgins) who sees how Hearn is taking over snooker and starts building his empire of top players.

Alex Higgins is pictured as some sort of indirect narrator of Hearn's ruling and how that must have messed with his head and self-confidence.

Clearly avoiding as much as possible Higgins' outbursts of fury and violence, the film closely follows the highs and lows of a ... sportsman; his inner demons, the drugs, the love, the family life, the drinking, the wins, the loses etc.

Kevin Bishop playing Barry Hearn
The language is witty, both clean and dark , close to what the lads would have used back then, while the jokes are funny as hell. 

Davis' stating to his manager that he won't tolerate Higgins' bad treatment is wickedly written: "If he touches me again I won't be held responsible for what I'll do", to which Barry asks: "What will you do?" and Steve answers: "Probably go home."

I was very pleased to see that the actors managed to convey the power of their characters. Truth be told, I don't think it's easy to impersonate or try to play the role of Alex Higgins, nor the one of Barry Hearn for as dull as many would see it (I am strictly referring to the last named one).

As I said it at the beginning I wasn't around during those years, but I feel like I have been brought up with the stories of those times and the film really managed to transport me there.

In the end, the conclusions are easy to see: snooker is a lonely sport, the pressure is enormous and behind every "perfect" life you see on or off the screen, lies something totally different.

The fears, the madness, the fury, the power, the beauty, the luck, the bad luck, the evolution, the torment, the change ... they are all part of the deal. 

If I could sum up everything that I wrote above and if I had to choose one word to describe this film, I think that “goosebumps” would be the most adequate one.

In the end I would just like to add this: be sure to watch the film, but be sure to really watch it!

P.S. An excellent and perfectly legitimate review of the film can be read on SnookerBacker’s blog.