So you say you don’t like soccer? Well, I don’t either which is why I was so blown away by how much I enjoyed “Green Street Hooligans.” The film (written and directed) by Lexi Alexander is, on its surface, about rival soccer gangs in London. But the film is much more than that as it touches on personal strength, loyalty and the nature of violence.
The world of soccer hooligans is shown to us through the eyes of American Matt Buckner (Wood) who was just kicked out of Harvard for being accused of something he didn’t do. Rather than stand up for himself and tell the truth about what happened, Matt trundles off to visit his sister in London. Within moments, her pushy boyfriend sends him out on the town with his tough guy brother Pete (Hunnam) who is the head of a soccer gang or “firm” as they call them across the pond.
Pete is not the least bit anxious to introduce his yank acquaintance to the firm but when he does, Matt somehow manages to fit in with almost the entire crew. However, Matt soon discovers the firm is more rabid about keeping their tough guy reps than about rooting for their local team. This is where the film really pulled me in. I had no idea about rival firms, their ways, fights and their intense loyalty to one another. Lexi Alexander does an amazing job showing what this world is all about. The fights are depicted in a brutally real style and the characters all have depth and personalities. I was also impressed by Elijah Wood because, lets face it, there’s no way he’s a tough guy. But as the film progresses and as Matt falls deeper and deeper into the firm, you can honestly believe that the transformation is real.
“Green Street Hooligans” is a great film because of it’s realism and the ability to show viewers a world that exists even today, but not everyone knows about. Even though violence is wrong and it just perpetuates more violence, it sure is fun to watch. But “Hooligans” never glorifies the violence and in fact by the end of the film, you see how mindless violence really is.