Football hooliganism may not be as prolific as it once was, but there’s still an air of uneasiness hanging over tense clashes between teams. From fights spilling over outside to flares being launched inside stadiums, the world of professional football (soccer) continues to draw in this sort of behaviour the world over. While Football Factory and Green Street have done well to bring this into mainstream media, Sky’s Dream Team back in the 90’s remains one of the few scripted dramas that puts this centre-fold in serialized form. Step forward Puerta 7.
Set in the heart of Argentina, Puerta 7 is a politically charged series that tackles the coming together of organized crime, professional football and politics behind the scenes in one messy, dramatic thriller across an 8 episode run-time. Taking centre stage for this clash is Lomito, a crime boss who orchestrates the crowds behind him during a tense match on the pitch. When a masked assassin stabs him repeatedly, leaving him fatally wounded, the club and Lomito’s friends rally separately to track down those behind this attack, with the latter subsequently launching a counter attack and plunging the two gangs into a blood feud.
At the same time, NGO Agent Diana arrives on the scene to take over as Head of Security at Ferroviarios Soccer Club and what follows is essentially a triangle of issues descending on the series, all of which revolving around Diana. As Lomito grows in power, the series shifts its attention from the two warring groups to that of Lomito and Diana who butt heads throughout the show. Unfortunately she faces enemies both inside and outside the club, resulting in a dramatic penultimate episode, and a subsequent finale that sees most of the issues resolved and put to bed.
Puerta 7 does take a while to get into its story, with multiple characters introduced early on that make it difficult to remember who everyone is and what their relationships are with one another. Thankfully the subtitles do tend to give prompts as to who everyone is, and although this natural way of delivering exposition is a welcome change of pace from other shows of its kind, it also feels like a bit of a double-edged sword with so many characters here.
Along with the main plot line is a romance involving Lomito’s daughter, further issues affecting Fabian and Mario who wind up involved with the rival gang’s right-hand man Octopus and a further subplot involving the club President Guillermo. There are an awful lot of moving parts here and the story does jump between a lot of them throughout the series. Personally, the romance angle didn’t really do it for me but the main plot line more than makes up for that with some really tense and thrilling moments.
Stylistically, Puerta 7 has a tendency to over-indulge in its long shots. Early on, this makes for some really slick scenes but the longer the show goes on, and especially during the inevitable mid-season slump, these feel like they’re dragging the show out rather than artistically enhancing the material. Do we really need a 5 minute static shot of two characters talking in a car-dealership? Probably not but be prepared to see that here. The acting during these moments are good but the lack of close-ups during shots like this don’t quite have the same emotional weight behind them as you may expect.
Puerta 7 is not without its problems and the show is held back by some of its stylistic ideas. The numerous different storylines do give the show a bit of a busy feel, which is a little ironic given the slow pace parts of this series tends to adopt. Still, the clash between football, politics and organised crime works well within the context and there’s certainly some nice twists along the way. There are some casualties and not everyone makes it out alive by the end but Puerta 7 is an enjoyable, albeit flawed, thrill ride worth taking.