In the gritty, violence-streaked Green Street Hooligans (2005), Elijah Wood toughens up and releases some post-Lord of the Rings angst in a series of street brawls that have much of their genesis in a love of, wait for it, sports.
Written and directed by Lexi Alexander, Hooligans follows Matt Buckner (Wood), a good-natured journalism undergrad who is wrongfully expelled from Harvard after taking the fall for his genuine a-hole of a roommate. Desperate for change of scenery and pace, Matt relocates to London, where he reunites with his big sis, Shannon (Claire Frolani), meets her husband, Ben (Oliver Allison) and strikes up a friendship with Ben’s wild younger brother, Pete (Charlie Hunnam), who introduces him to the violent underworld of football hooliganism associated with the diehard supporters of the world-famous English football league. For many of these fanatics, when it comes to defending their football club of choice, it’s a matter of life and death, so much so that while viewing the film a head scratch or two are perfectly understandable.
Deeply exploring family, loyalty and the dual power of sports to unite and destroy, Green Street Hooligans is a raw and riveting film that finds Wood lending much of that natural believability and engaging presence he brought to the Lord of the Rings films. The rest of the cast, Hunnam especially, shines too.
A sports movie with a real difference, Green Street Hooligans is equally eye-opening and life-altering. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+