My own list of 'away trips to be treated with caution' would include Spurs, Liverpool/Everton, Boro and West Ham: the latter being almost everyone's worst nightmare.American journalist Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) finds himself firmly planted in the Upton Park mayhem when he arrives in England to stay with sister Shannon (Claire Forlani). Buckner's expulsion from Harvard - the result of taking a fall for his coke-addicted room-mate - is, along with his profession, kept secret from brother-in-law Steve(Marc Warren) and Pete (Charlie Hunnam); the self-styled 'top boy' in West Ham's Green Street Elite. Although Buckner receives a mostly hostile reception from this ultra-violent firm, the picture changes when a fierce encounter with Birmingham's mob sees him emerge with credit for standing his ground.As the film proceeds, Buckner gets deeper and deeper into the shadowy world of football violence, gaining respect from all but one of his fellow members: Bover (Leo Gregory) becomes jealous of Buckner's relationship with Pete and travels deep into the territory of the Hammers' biggest rivals, but for what reason?Following on from cult fave THE FOOTBALL FACTORY, Lexi Alexander's GREEN STREET features all the things you want and, possibly, a few that you never expected. Confrontations between rival fans are brutal in the extreme, capturing age-old rivalries with an intensity that will surely strike a chord with all those who played (and still play) the game. Strong stuff indeed, but Green Street also demonstrates that many of the combatants are decent people in everyday life with responsible jobs, solid family backgrounds and firm values regarding the things that really matter. Alexander successfully touches base with all the above, and is equally adept at painting the darker side of human nature where individuals grasp the baton handed down by relatives and friends to engage in organised warfare with likeminded people. Although I still believe the definitive 'Firms' picture has still to be made (maybe Danny Boyle will do the honours?), Green Street is, for now, more than good enough. The involvement of Dougie Brimson (script and production) may raise a few hackles amongst past and present boys, and a few scenes (the Manchester 'off', Shannon's appearance during the climax) are possibly a bit hard to swallow, but this should not detract from a job well done. Wood, Warren, Forlani and Hunnam are all excellent, and do look out for Geoff Bell as Millwall's number one: perhaps the most loathesome Cockney screen villain since Sexy Beast's Don Logan.
23rd March will see the DVD release of the follow up: GREEN STREET 2: STAND YOUR GROUND. While I initially welcomed news of this sequel, reading the synopsis has somewhat diluted my initial enthusiasm.
Following the deadly climax of "Green Street Hooligans," several members of the West Ham firm and numerous members of Millwall end up in jail. The GSE quickly discover the brutality of life on the inside, as they are constant targets of the superior numbers and better-financed Millwall crew. Football on the inside and out is followed fervently by the prisoners and wins and losses by both are quickly followed by punishment or reward. This could mean a beating or an extra shower or a day of visitation, which inspires extreme behavior. When overcrowding compels a need for the early release of a fortunate few, fate brings West Ham and Millwall together again this time on a Pitch. The stakes are the highest they have ever been for all concerned with death or freedom quite literally a goal away. Game on.
Ah well, let's keep an open mind for now. I'll be reviewing this one soon as it hits the racks.