Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Movie Review: Green Street Hooligans (2006)

Movie Title: Green Street Hooligans
Alexi Alexander
Actor(s): Elijah Woods, Charlie Hunnam
Language: English
Subtitles (on dvd): English, Spanish, French
Rated: R (violence, language)
Genre: Drama/Indie
Run Time: 109 mins
DVD Release Date: 13 June 2006
My Rating:

Synopsis: A wrongfully expelled Harvard undergrad moves to London, where he is introduced to the violent underworld of soccer hooliganism.

**The following review may contain SPOILERS**

My Review: Okay so many of you may be wondering why I am reviewing this movie. Green Street Hooligans is one of those rare gems that I have heard other people talking about here and there but never got around to watching it. I was in FYE the other day and saw the dvd sitting on the shelf for $6.99 and figured it was a sign since a few months ago I couldn't get the movie for under $12.99 (hey, I am a collector so I know when to be cheap and when to suck it up and buy a flick, hehe).

That being said, while I am years late in watching the movie, I am at least proud of myself for viewing it within 48 hours of its purchase. Many of you already know that I have a habit of buying a movie or book and then it collects dust on my shelf until the mood strikes. =/ Well the mood was definitely there and I have to admit that the two main lead actors are part of the reason for my quick watch time.

Elijah Wood (of Lord of the Rings fame as well as many older films in which he starred as a child such as The Good Son) plays Matt Muckner, a talented Harvard grad student that is wrongfully expelled two months before he is supposed to receive his diploma. I am not going to get into the reason for his expulsion because that would be giving away too much of the plot. Suffice to say, after this devastating blow he has nothing better to do then to take a trip to London where his sister Shannon resides with her English husband and their toddler son. While his sister is happy to see him, there is definitely a tension between them and it is revealed that the siblings have had a rough childhood together with the loss of their mother and their almost estranged father.

Before the siblings can really get reacquainted, Shannon's husband Steve comes home from work. He doesn't seem to have any issues with Matt's sudden arrival but tells him when they have a moment alone that he had something special planned for him and his wife. And this is when we are introduced to Charlie Hunnam's character, Pete, Steve's younger rebel brother. Pete comes through the back door into the kitchen like a storm, without knocking and without hesitation. He is there to ask his big brother for some money, something that you can tell he does quite often. Steve is obviously annoyed because of the tension Pete creates in Shannon and the dripping sarcasm he uses towards Matt. But Steve gets his little revenge by making Pete "babysit" Matt so that he can spend quality time with his wife. On the way out the door he gives Matt money and tells him no matter what, do NOT give Pete the loot. Within seconds of both young men venturing outside and down the street, Pete tries to intimidate Matt in giving him the cash. Surprisingly, Matt holds his ground even when it turns a little physical.

Pete says, " So I'm guessing you're not much of a fighter?"
Matt's surprised reply: "Fighter? That's probably the first fight I ever had."
"You call that a fight,"
Pete says with amusement.

Although Pete tries to get Matt to stay behind, he allows him to tag along. From that moment on, the Alpha and Omega become nearly inseparable. Pete's close knit friends are not so accepting, however, when Matt seems to be invited to not only their favorite pub but to football (aka soccer in the US) games. It is one particular football game that changes not only the views of Pete's friends but how Matt views Pete. After watching the West Ham United v Birmingham City match, Matt decides to go home instead of hanging with the group after the game. On his way, Matt soon realizes he is being followed and is accosted by some thugs. He is relieved when Pete and the gang appear and a bloody fight ensues. It is during this fight that Matt discovers this is no ordinary skirmish and Pete is no ordinary rebellious punk. He is brutally introduced into the world of 'firms,' football team followers that show their loyalty by finding ways to humiliate the other team's firm and vicious fighting in the streets. And Pete? Leader of the GSE, Green Steet Elite 'firm'.

While most of Pete's 'firm' begin to grudgingly respect Matt after he proves himself in a brutal fight, Bovver, Pete's closest mate seems to seeth with jealousy. He feels that Matt, who is American, cannot be trusted and even goes as far as to accuse Pete and Matt of being gay since they are always seen together. Pete being the bold leader that he is defends Matt and tells Bovver that he is getting tired of his accusations and wasted energy. However, Bovver's animosity proves fatal...

One reason I gave this movie a 5 out of 5 star rating is because of the two lead actors. After Elijah Wood starred in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there is no doubt that he could have continued to do high budget movies with fluffy scripts (not saying LOTR is fluffy). Instead, Wood chose to carve his own path in the acting world by picking scripts that challenged him. I think I read a review from a critic that said Elijah Wood was not a good casting choice for Green Street Hooligans because he seemed out of place. Umm, well, I must disagree because...isn't that the point? The movie is about an American Harvard student that moves to England and gets involved in the violent, mysterious world of football firms. Elijah Wood IS American and in real life would seem out of place if he were to go over to England for a visit. I mean the movie wouldn't have been believable if they had chosen..say, Orlando Bloom to play the part of Matt Muckner. Sometimes I really wonder about about critics...

Who fascinated me more was Charlie Hunnam's performance as the GSE leader Pete. For those of you who have never heard of Charlie Hunnam, you may recognize him as that famous hot biker Jax Teller from the hit FX television show Sons of Anarchy. I guess the reason why I am so blown away by his acting is because I first saw Charlie in a little British television series called Queer As Folk (a very controversal show that later prompted the US to create their own provocative Queer As Folk series). He played Nathan, the young underage virgin who falls for and catches the eye of playboy bachelor Stuart. Yes people, Charlie Hunnam played a very daring role as a gay teenager. Even though this is where I first saw him, I did not recognize him as Jax Teller in Sons of Anarchy for quite awhile. Charlie obviously is older now and sports an American/Californian (where the show takes place) accent in his current role. It wasn't until I had gone onto to check out his filmography that I put the connection together. Charlie Hunnam is a prime example of an actor that has gone "gay" and still maintains a successful career. I hate to even bring that up since I am a big fan of gay cinema but let's face is, while it is a little more common now for big actors to accept gay roles, 10 years ago it was not so common or even accepting. Then again, I have to keep reminding myself that Charlie is from England and people in Europe generally do not have the issues we do when it comes to gay cinema. Anyway, I point is, Charlie Hunnam is an actor that is not afraid to go from one extreme to the next. He blew me away in Queer as Folk and Sons of Anarchy, two completely different shows and characters and I have to admit that he is probably one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to see Green Street Hooligans. While SOA and GSH do share some similarities, it was interesting to see him back in a role where he is in his own country with his own accent (well, sort of his own accent since I know that different parts of England have different dialects). And yes, I do know that Green Street Hooligans was shot a few years before Sons of Anarchy but I have been so imersed in his character Jax Teller that I easily forgot his background. He is that believable as an actor and while SOA Season 3 is on the horizon (September 7th baby! Woohoo!) I can't wait to see the outcome of other projects he is working on. B-)

While the actors are largely responsible for my 5 star rating, the original script and gritty scenes make up the other half. In an era where movies are either remakes, sequels, or book adaptations, I'm sure not the only one who somehow feels jaded going into a film. I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes have that "I've seen em' all" attitude. At times I will sit at the computer for hours, searching for that one movie that sounds different, looks different, feels different. I know some people have compared this movie to Fight Club and I do see the similarities. However, up until this film, I had no idea what the hell a 'firm' was. And if it wasn't for me watching the 2010 World Cup I probably wouldn't have known how serious football (aka soccer) is to the people of England. The way Americans feel about baseball and football is the way they feel about soccer. We just don't have baseball or football firms here...or do we? I can remember quite a few times watching a baseball game and the camera shooting to a fight that broke out in the stands or hearing on the channel 6 news that fans were arrested at a game for getting too out of control. Hmm, I wonder if this is a phenomenon that somehow the American government has covered up >=)~

I could sit here and complain about the low budget but I went into it knowing that GSH is an Indie flick and most if not all Indie flicks are low budget. This may sound strange but sometimes when I know I'm about to watch a movie that struggled to be made because of the lack of funds, it takes some of the pressure off. Instead of me focusing on the visual affects and the special affects, I realize the only thing that is going to hold my interest for the next 90 minutes (or more) is the story that's about to unfold and the acting that brings it to life.

Green Street Hooligans brings something fresh and originial to the screen because of its mysterious and talented main lead actors and ability to keep you interested despite its obvious low budget, Indie feel. Oh and going back to my comment about sometimes feeling jaded while watching movies...this film also has a couple of surprise shockers that I did not see coming. I could blame that on being tired since I did pop the movie in at 2:30am but I'd like to think I was genuinely surprised.

**Note** Just to give you a heads up before I forget, the "Cockney" accents (no offense intended) in this movie may be hard to follow especially if you are tired going into this movie as I was so if you have the dvd you can put the English substitles on.


1 comment:

  1. I really liked this movie to my surprise. The acting is brilliant by both leads like you say, heres something interesting for you, my best friend babysitted Charlie Hunman when he was a child. (he constantly reminds me everytime he is on tv) Great review!