film Review

Sean Bean narrates Hooligan, a documentary study of what was known in the 80’s as ‘the English disease’.

Aiming to be an in-depth study of hooliganism (both in act and in what it is to be one), director Donal MacIntyre, a former undercover journalist who was once under assignment as a hooligan himself, asks why hooliganism came to be and also why, of all sports, it’s so closely associated with football.

From the start, Hooligan can’t decide what it wants to be. Is it a serious study of the ugly side of football or a tongue in cheek exposé on how infantile fan violence is? If Sean Bean‘s narration is anything to go by, it’s the latter, as Eddard Stark himself openly mocks the notion of hooliganism whilst the film fails to come up with any direction other than to perpetuate this mockery.

It isn’t helped by the chosen talking heads. In dealing with the subject of hooliganism, one would expect to hear from all sides of the argument, those who perpetrate violence as well as the victims, members of the police, members of parliament, the general public and so on. Instead we talk to members of various firms (who, unsurprisingly, wish to remain anonymous) and, of all people, actor Tamer Hassan, whose inclusion adds nothing. Who cares how international firms adopted the techniques of British thugs? It’s not a mark of pride.

There is a wasted opportunity here, which is a shame as the subject could have made for an interesting film. Unfortunately, Hooligan reeks of laziness and immaturity, which is surprising considering the director’s journalistic history.

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