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Film / Green Street

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Green Street is a 2005 British/American independent film Directed by Lexi Alexander 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?

It received mixed reviews, though some were very positive, 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.
  • Artistic License – Sports:
    • 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. Albeit, perhaps Shannon herself, as an American who is quite disinterested in the sport, didn't know this fact.
  • Ax-Crazy: Tommy, Mark and, in the past, Steve, AKA The Major, and Terry.
  • Berserk Button: Pete telling Tommy Hatcher that his sons death was his own fault drove the man to beat him to death.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Matt is the only character to end the film happy, having learned to stand up for himself. Pete’s dead, most of the GSE are in prison (revealed in the sequels), Tommy is a Karma Houdini, 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.
  • Blood Knight: The hooligans are shown to be almost always eager for a violent fight.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After being informed that Tommy killed Pete, Steve breaks down in the hospital feeling like he's lost everything. It's just as heartbreaking as it sounds...
  • 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.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the cafe scene, Tommy bashes a man's head against the table because he wouldn't keep his girlfriend quiet while Tommy and Bovver were trying to chat.
  • The Dragon: Mark to Tommy Hatcher, and back in the day, Terry to The Major.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Tommy deeply loved his son and his main goal is to take revenge on Steve for having indirectly killed him. Unlike other examples however this doesn't humanize him at all since Tommy himself is equally responsible for his son's death. No responsible father would bring his 12 years old son to a violent hooligan match. Pete later calls him out on it.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Implied. Tommy is easily the cruellest of those Millwall fuckers in the movie and definitely two seconds away from a psychotic breakdown every second he's out of bed, but when Bovver tells them he believes Matt is an undercover journo, he is the only one of them to have a completely serious face throughout and seems a little put off at the idea of an American journalist infiltrating the GSE like that.
    • There's also the reason Steve quit being the Major. He witnessed Tommy's young son die in the street fight he himself had started and realised his rage and obsession with football violence had gone too far, making him swear off both football and his life as the GSE leader.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Both sides stop fighting when they see Tommy beat Pete to death. The GSE members being the ones to try and pull him away.
    • "I don't care who he is or what he's done, you DON'T do someone on the deck!"
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: While Tommy's son was murdered by the GSE, it doesn't excuse or justify his vicious behavior, especially since it was him who indirectly caused his son's death by forcing him to take part in the fight between his firm and the GSE, rather than telling him to hide somewhere. Pete calls him out for this near the end.
    Pete: We didn't kill your son, Tommy... YOU did! You should have protected him, mate... HE WAS YOUR SON!
  • Gray-and-Gray Morality: Both the GSE and the NGO members are vicious thugs thirsty for violence so there's no saint on either side. Some of'em however has some standards and redeeming traits.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Jeremy Van Holden is Matt's slimy, self-absorbed, drug-addicted room-mate at university. After Matt discovers Jeremy's drugs in his own room, Matt is kicked out of university, and due to Jeremy coming from a powerful and wealthy family, Matt is too afraid to tell them that the drugs belong to Jeremy. Jeremy promises Matt that he will hook him up as a way of thanking him for covering him up, only to break his promise at the end of the film, as well as insulting Matt by calling him a "spineless shit".
    • Tommy Hatcher is the main antagonist of the film, and the leader of the NTO firm. He wants vengeance against the GSE because one of their members murdered his son during a fight between Tommy's firm and the GSE firm. Despite that, Tommy puts 100% of the blame on the GSE rather than acknowledging he was also the cause of his son's death. However, Tommy is just as responsible for the death of his son because he not only raised him to be a violent hooligan, but also forced him into the fight that resulted in his death, when he had no chance of winning. His establishing moment is where he beats up a man in a restaurant because he wouldn't keep his girlfriend quiet. He later encounters Steve Dunham who was the former leader of the GSE and started the fight against Tommy's firm that resulted in Tommy's son's death and stabs him in the neck with a glass bottle as vengeance, resulting in Steve being hospitalized. Near the end of the film, he brutally beats up Pete and murders him after he rightfully tells Tommy that he (Tommy) was just as responsible for the death of his son and that he should have protected him. Worst of all, Tommy doesn't get any comeuppance for his actions.
  • Idiot Ball: It's hard to tell 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.
  • Jerkass:
    • Jeremy Van Holden, who frames Mark for drug possession, by hiding his stash in Mark's closet, to save his and his father's (who expects to be re-elected) reputation in the beginning.
    • Tommy Hatcher, as his establishing moment is bashing a man's head against the table, because he wouldn't keep his girlfriend quiet. This extends to the rest of his firm, too, especially his second in command who was eager to attack Shannon & her infant child.
    • Bovver, as he is constantly hostile against Mark and, after learning about Mark's past as a journalist student, he informs Tommy Hatcher instead of Pete.
  • Karma Houdini: Tommy gets off scot-free after injuring Steve and killing Pete (unless there's a chance that he got arrested off-screen later on).
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Karma hits Jeremy pretty hard at the end where he breaks his promise to Matt about hooking him up, and when he mentions that the drugs belong to him, Matt records the conversation in order to get back into University, resulting in Jeremy possibly getting kicked out and arrested for drug-possession.
  • Love Redeems: The reason The Major gave up his leadership of the GSE.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Tommy Hatcher (his last name sounds like a lot the world "hatchet'').
  • Never My Fault: Tommy blames the GSE for being responsible for the death of his son, and while that is true since one of the GSE members did kill his son, Tommy is equally as responsible for his son's death, since he got him involved in the fight between his firm and the GSE. Pete calls him out for this, telling him he should have protect his son, and unfortunately, that costs Pete his life... It's implied that Tommy does indeed know this but he just won't take responsibility.
  • 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.
  • Papa Wolf: Tommy wants to avenge his son's death by the hands of GSE.
  • The Reveal: The Major is eventually revealed to have been Steve Dunham.
  • Sir Swears Alot: Nearly all the football hooligan characters. Especially Tommy.
  • 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.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Pete Dunham, along with the rest of his firm.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Pete Dunham is supposed to be a cockney, yet his accent sounds more like that of an Australian or a British American. This is due to the fact that his actor, Charlie Hunnam, comes from Newcastle. This is a common complaint the film received from viewers.
  • Would Hit a Girl: When Shannon arrives in her car at the scene of the GSE and NGO, Tommy's second in command, Mark, tries to smash the car window to attack Shannon. Thankfully Matt and Bovver stop him and beat him up for it.