is a 2005 British/American independent film about football [soccer] hooligans.
An American journalism student, Matt, is framed for drug use by his far more socially powerful roommate and thus expelled from Harvard. Fleeing to England to be with his sister, who emigrated after marrying a local boy named Steve, Matt finds himself involved with the local hooligan culture.
Specifically, he falls in with the firm led by Steve's younger brother, Pete. Initially shy, by adding his brains to Pete's brawn, Matt quickly builds a reputation within the firm, the firm having lost most of its reputation after their enigmatic leader suddenly disappeared.
Unfortunately for Matt, not everyone is happy with the presence of an outsider, and there's also Matt's well-concealed past to consider. As grudges new and old come to the boil, who will end the film any better than he started?
As it received mixed reviews, the film's questionable casting choices and highly questionable accents (the problems being connected) were considered serious flaws. That's not to say that the reviews were all bad, however, with Roger Ebert
giving the film a glowing response.
This film contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Tommy raising his son to be a fighting machine clearly puts him in this territory, especially since it cost the boy his life while he was still a child.
- Affably Evil: Evil may be overstating it, but the core GSE members are seen as fundamentally decent people despite also being violent thugs. Everyone else is just a faceless thug, and the core Millwall men (particularly Tommy and Mark) have basically no redeeming features.
- Ax-Crazy: Tommy, Mark and, in the past, Steve, AKA The Major, and Terry.
- Berserk Button: Pete telling Tommy Hatchner that his sons death was his own fault drove the man to beat him to death.
- Brains and Brawn: The combination of Matt and Pete leading the second coming of the GSE is clearly this — Matt's university-level intelligence combines with Pete's thuggery quite nicely.
- Broken Aesop: The film tries to convey the message that you need to know when to stand your ground and when to run away. Perhaps it does, but every bit as apparent is that violence is frequently an easy way to solve one’s problems.
- The Cameo: In Manchester, the camera appears to linger on a strong policeman manhandling the leader of the Manchester firm. Said policeman is played by Cass Pennant, a notorious hooligan himself in the 1970s who wrote a book about his experiences.
- Direct-to-DVD: This film received a sequel which did this, with almost no connection to the original – it focussed on the relatively minor character of Dave as he experiences life in prison after the fight that ends the first film.
- Downer Ending: Despite the film trying to make it seem a bittersweet, on reflection Matt is the only character to end the film happy. After all, Pete’s dead, most of the \GSE are in prison, Shannon has been forced to leave her husband, and Steve is critically injured in hospital and has lost his wife, son and brother in one fell swoop.
- The Dragon: Mark to Tommy Hatcher, and back in the day, Terry to The Major.
- Gretzky Has the Ball: This occurs when Pete takes Matt to see West Ham play against Birmingham City at Upton Park. The team shown in the film was not Birmingham City (which would have been wearing blue-and-white kits) but rather Gillingham, a team which wore the blue and black hoops during the 2003-2004 season. Moreover, since Birmingham City and West Ham were in different divisions during the 2003-2004 season (Birmingham in the Premier League, West Ham in the Championship), it would have been impossible for the two clubs to play league games against each other during that season.
- Also, when Matt asks about the aftermath of the fight between the GSE and the Spurs hooligans, Shannon responds that "Tottenham was in town." Anyone who watches English soccer/football knows that Tottenham is a club from London... the same city that West Ham and Millwall are based in.
- Idiot Ball: I don't know who's worse, Shannon for endangering herself and her infant child by showing up at the final scrap, or Matt, for drawing attention to her.
- Love Redeems: The reason The Major gave up his leadership of the GSE.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: It’s easier to count the times when Pete actually speaks in an accurate Cockney accent as opposed to his actor’s native Northern one.
- The Reveal: The Major is eventually revealed to have been Steve Dunham.
- Took a Level in Badass: Matt, going from every bit the weak student he appears at the start, to a highly capable fighter by the end.