GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS: In 1988, British director Alan Clarke set a high benchmark for movies about soccer hooliganism with a brutal, unflinching drama called THE FIRM. Few dared follow in Clarke's estimable footsteps. But filmmaker Lexi Alexander, who joined a gang of soccer thugs during her childhood in Germany, seems well placed to be the director of GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS, which returns to the controversial subject matter some 17 years after Clarke's film. Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) is a student who travels to London after getting kicked out of Harvard. Ostensibly there to visit his sister, Matt instead forms an unlikely bond with her husband's brother, Pete Dunham (Charlie Hunnam), who takes him to a soccer match to see his team, West Ham. At the game, the inevitable happens, and Matt's initial trepidation at the violence swelling around him soon turns into a pulse-racing, visceral thrill. Suddenly finding a taste for the hooligan life, Matt joins Pete's "firm," the Green Street Elite, leading to further booze-fueled confrontations and providing an opportunity for Matt to keep a journal explaining why he's attracted to such a violent pursuit.
Surprisingly, Elijah Wood manages to fit perfectly into a role that seems ill-suited to his elfin, wide-eyed looks. British actor Charlie Hunnam, who starred in the U.K. version of QUEER AS FOLK and TV's UNDECLARED, neatly complements Wood as the Cockney boy who leads him into danger, and together the two actors manage to carve out convincingly violent characters. A loud, energetic soundtrack and roaming, trembling camera work create a disquieting atmosphere in a movie punctuated with scenes of rampant brutality. Sensibly not trying to ape Alan Clarke's approach to the subject matter, Alexander has instead created a very effective work built on her own experience.