HOOLIGANS: BOYS WILL BE BOYS
Hooligans is an inside and violent look at the fans of English football (that would be soccer to us Yanks). Director Lexi Alexander is a former World Karate and Kickboxing Champion and it shows. It comes with a likeable cast headed by Elijah Wood. These football fans definitely put ours to shame with their intensity. It is an enjoyable film but becomes clichéd with its predictability.
Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) has been kicked out of Harvard for a crime he didn’t commit. He is weak and takes the fall for his arrogant privileged roommate. So Matt goes to visit his sister Shannon (Claire Forlani of Meet Joe Black fame) in London. He gets caught up with Shannon’s brother-in-law Pete (Charlie Hunnam) and his “Firm” of the Green Street Elite after he takes him to a football match. The Green Street Elite are a group of fans of the West Ham United football team. The GSE lives to fight with other Firms such as Millwall, a rival football team gang. Matt begins as an outsider and a wimp but eventually becomes part of the group as he learns to fight and put his neck on the line for them. He gets so caught up in being a part of things that he eventually puts his sister and her family in danger.
Hooligans is essentially about friendship taken to an extreme level. It is not an original concept but you have fun with it nonetheless because of the guys and the fight scenes. You can feel the camaraderie between the guys and know that they would do anything for each other. Wood shows his progression well as he starts off afraid of this close knit, rough bunch of guys then transitions into almost a co-leader with Pete. The character Bovver (Leo Gregory) is unfortunately a clichéd character who doesn’t want this foreigner to infiltrate their group. He is a little too over the top. There is grittiness to the background and color that give the movie it’s urban and no holds barred theme. Shaky camera angles during the fights help you to feel the savageness of these men and that they are not to be stopped no matter what the cost. The DVD extras are below average sadly as they only include the making of the film and the trailer.
The film is predictable and that is its downfall. You have an idea from the beginning that this relationship was not going to end on a positive note and the buildup throughout the whole movie just reinforces that. The ending of the film is lame also and should have been more satisfying.
Hooligans is engaging and popcorn fun. It won’t win any awards for the storyline but it could become a cult classic in terms of its subject matter and the popularity of football in the UK.