The Final: Attack on Wembley (2024)

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The Final: Attack on Wembley (2024)

England’s national soccer team reached the UEFA Euro 2020 Final in July 2021 the first time the country had made its way to a final of a major tournament since winning the 1966 World Cup. What’s more, this final was scheduled to be played at Wembley Stadium in London, after being delayed by a year due to COVID, so anticipation was high. Then things went haywire: thousands of ticketless fans tried to storm the stadium, creating an ugly day chronicled in The Final: Attack on Wembley, now streaming on Netflix.

THE FINAL: ATTACK ON WEMBLEY: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The Gist: The UEFA Euro 2020 Final should’ve been a dream come true for English football fans: it was the first time their national team has reached the final of a major tournament since winning the World Cup in ’66, and they were playing at their home stadium. But it didn’t work out that way, as Italy won in penalty kicks after 120 scoreless minutes. The aftermath is said to have been some of the worst football fan violence since the days of hooliganism decades ago. Thousands breached security and invaded Wembley Stadium, many fans and security personnel were injured during melees inside and outside the venue.

The Final: Attack on Wembley puts this dark day into context what led up to it, how much people wanted live football back after COVID postponed tournaments around the world for months, then weeks before this match kicked off using lots of footage from that day mixed with interviews from fans who were there (or just trying to get there), commentators who called or saw what happened, players and officials who participated or helped improve security measures afterward.

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?:

ESPN’s Hillsborough episode from its 30 For 30 series covered one of British soccer’s greatest tragedies when 97 people died in a crush at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium during an FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. (There are plenty of other films on this subject, such as the recent BBC docu-series.) That overshadows what happened at Wembley in ’21, but this incident certainly brings it to mind.

Performance Worth Watching:

The authorities are responsible for keeping the peace and/or running Wembley police officers, stadium workers, and commentators who were trying to call games inside the ground that were delayed by fans outside to add necessary context. But it’s the average folks who loved football too much not to be there that give the movie its flavor. “I’m looking forward to getting to Wembley.

I was prepared to spend what I earned in a month on a ticket for that game,” one says wistfully. “The tickets were going for like, a few grand… I can’t pay a few grand for an England game, I’d just go there for the party, I guess,” another shrugs. And then there’s Taz, a security guard who couldn’t afford his own ticket but still wanted to be part of the epicenter of English footie history. “I want to be there man… I want to hear [sic] the roar bro! I want to see them pick up the trophy!”

Memorable Dialogue:

“This is history,” sports correspondent Mike Keegan says about England making it through Euro ’20 on Day Five of this documentary — which means it’s before they lost on penalty kicks. “This is history and you wanna be there man… You wanna see it! The tickets were like gold dust.”

Sex and Skin:

There is skin here although I wouldn’t call it sexy. At one point, we see a naked man’s penis as his friend’s light fireworks lodged in his buttocks. Caveat emptor, etc.

Our Take:

The Final: Attack on Wembley feels like watching a storm roll in. You can feel it building before the clouds even form — the air is heavy, warm, and damp, all the elements for something truly destructive are there.

The film, a tight 82-minute documentary, does an excellent job of contextualizing the story even if you’re not particularly invested in soccer itself. We’re given the lay of the land: England is playing in their first major tournament final in 55 years, and they’re doing it at home. Tickets are impossibly hard to come by, going for thousands of pounds apiece on secondary markets; after a year of COVID restrictions, fans have a lot of pent-up public-party energy; thousands have had the seemingly innocent thought that well, if I can’t get tickets then I’ll go down there anyway; it’ll be a laugh.

What happens next is some of the worst violence around a European football match since everyone thought those days were over.

When the film arrives at matchday, it plays out like an episode of “24,” with clocks shown on screen counting down to kickoff time. Individual perspectives begin to converge — fans who’d come down for a good time; police officials whose job is to keep things orderly; commentators realizing things are spiraling out of control. “Wembley Way (the main access street into the stadium) is packed with thousands of ticketless supporters … there’s clearly not enough security there,” says sports correspondent Mike Keegan. “There’s not enough stewards (to help manage crowds); there’s not enough police … and those people on Wembley Way without tickets know that there are 23,000 empty seats because of COVID restrictions. When you put all that together, it’s the perfect storm. If I was on the ground and I was a steward, I would be absolutely terrified.” From here we skip quickly to an interview with one of those stewards, Taz — an England fan and security steward thrown into the mix.

Also On Putlocker.

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