“I’ve never lived closer to danger, but I’ve never felt safer”: ‘Green Street Hooligans’ Review
Sports films tend to follow a traditional format that gives them an undeniable charm, but Green Street Hooligans subverts that in violently brutal fashion.
The story follows Matt Buckner (a riveting Elijah Wood) after he’s kicked out of Harvard University and decides to live in London with his sister. However, it is Steve’s brother in law’s brother, Pete (Charlie Hunnam) that forever changes his attitude and introduces him to the GSE (Green Street Elite) by showing him the vivid life of what happens after football (I’m not going to call it soccer) games.
One of the main themes that Green Street Hooligans explore is obviously brotherhood and family. Through the intense fights (shot in a truly intimate documentary style), he learns to not only take care of himself but his family as well. The GSE behaves like a true family and one that is interested in fighting but also has a very strong sense of loyalty and cares for each other.
Co-written and directed by Lexi Alexander (Punisher: War Zone), Green Street Hooligans is less a sports movie and more of an intense coming of age tale that has the fascinating world of hooliganism as a backdrop. Aside from seeing Elijah Wood completely shed his image of Frodo in a pretty explosive performance, the film is also packed with great turns by its supporting cast including Claire Forlani, Leo Gregory and a pre “Sons of Anarchy” Charlie Hunnam. Some of the main highlights of the film are obviously the fight scenes, or intense brawls, between the many different factions of London. Alexander and Director of Photography Alexander Buono shoot these brawls with a vivid authenticity that make them look raw and utterly captivating.
There are many shocking elements in Green Street Hooligans that deserve to be seen to be believed, but at the core of the story, it is a tale of friendship between Pete and Matt. While there’s a near sibling type of relationship between the two, you could also argue that the film presents them as a student/mentor as well. Both men learn from the other in ways that affect their characters; look at Matt towards the end he’s not the same person he once was at the beginning of the film.
What is remarkable about the way that Alexander presents a lot of her storytelling is actually through the visuals; while it’s a fight scene informing a character or just a shot, a lot of the film relies on wonderful visual storytelling. Green Street Hooligans is a violent coming of age story that presents a different view of football culture that you might not be entirely familiar with. Alexander delivers violent action in a way that shows you the consequences of it while subverting expectations of what you might expect from a sports movie. This isn’t an underdog tale or a tournament sort of film, but rather a coming of age that explores the theme of family and brotherhood through a violent, raw prism.