DIRECTOR: Lexi Alexander


May Contain Spoilers!

Will we be adding this to our collection? NO

I was always apprehensions about a film which would seem to glorify hooliganism, the scourge of football and British culture during the 1970’s and 80’s and I was worried as to how this would play out. Well, my fears were realised as the this is the responsable story of a young American Harvard student (Elijah Wood) who is expelled for taking the rap for a fellow students drug offence. He ends up visiting his sister (Claire Forlani) in London, along with her husband (Marc Warren) and befriends his brother Pete, (Charlie Hunnam).

He is the leader of a “Firm” of football hooligans, the Green Street Elite (GSE) and soon Wood is drawn into the violent underworld of football thuggery. The message here is that he learns to the value of belonging, how to handle himself and the meaning of true sacrifice. WHAT? This is outrageous. To pull off a story like this, you need to be Danny Boyle, with the ability, as he proved with Trainspotting (1995) to lavish reality onto the screen but doing so with a wry sense of humour. This film believes that it’s telling a real, poignant story.

It is not.

What it is doing is telling the story of childish thugs who spend there lives fuelling vendettas against other gangs and never growing up. There’s also a discord between the reality of the piece, which is driven well by the direction and the more theatrical elements which seems to be out-of-place. It just takes itself too seriously at times, whilst trying to convince us that these people are worth caring about and are living a life of meaning.

They’re not rebels. They’re not fighting the good fight. They’re just knocking ten tons of shit out of each other and living only to do it again next week! I find the performances and the internal logic to be flawed but saying that, it was quite watchable and the whole idea of that Tommy Hatcher (Geoff Bell), leader of the Millwall firm is avenging the death of his son in a previous battle, is just laughable.

Football fans are NOT hooligans as many people have a tendency to stereotype them and this film’s thesis that this kind of violence is helpful or meaningful is the sort of nonsense which I would expect from an ex-hooligan, who felt that writing this would give some meaning to his actions but trust me, it doesn’t. This film may have been more successful at spreading its message of redemption and family values if it had more properly acknowledged the truth behind the characters who live this way and had a bit more a laugh whilst doing it. It would have been along easier to take. The ending, I feel as well, with Wood walking down the street to the tune of his former GSE comrades is just naive and insulting.

My rating reflects the quality of the film but its message is appalling my opinion as it can’t seem to decide who’s side it really on.

N.B. Today is the start of the 2013/2014 Premiership Season in which West Ham United, the fictional Green Street Elite’s team, will be taking part in.

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