Green Street would be a grittily convincing study of football-related violence, were it not for two factors. The first is Elijah Wood, a pint-sized, baby-faced actor who makes the least plausible hooligan in cinema history. The second is co-star Charlie Hunnam, who as the leader of the West Ham "firm" sports the worst Cock-er-nee accent since Dick Van Dyke's in Mary Poppins. Together they capsize a well-intentioned but ultimately calamitous attempt to analyse the so-called "English disease".
Expelled from Harvard, journalism student Matt (Wood) heads to London to stay with his married sister Shannon (Claire Forlani). As he plans his next move he falls in with her charismatic brother-in-law Pete (Hunnam), a well-respected teacher and dedicated Hammers fan who proudly leads his club’s infamous Green Street Elite.
"OBSCENELY GLAMORISES SENSELESS VIOLENCE"
Initially repelled by the GSE's bully-boy tactics, Matt soon becomes addicted to the adrenaline-fuelled intensity of a post-match scrap and the boozy camaraderie of his new circle of friends. But Pete's right-hand man Bovver (Leo Gregory) doesn't take kindly to this Yank interloper and secretly plots his downfall.
Director Lexi Alexander punctuates her film with extended fight sequences that boast a bruising, muscular authenticity. Sadly, nothing else rings true in an often comical drama that, like Nick Love's The Football Factory before it, obscenely glamorises senseless violence. There's a great movie about hooliganism and its place in working-class male culture. It's called The Firm, and Alan Clarke made it in 1988.