Review: Attack The Block

The UK Film Industry is in a bit of a mess at the moment, since the death of the UKFC in July last year it could be said that the UK Film Industry is struggling to find its feet. Whilst the colossal success of The King’s Speech has shown the industry world wide that we’re more than capable of appealing to the masses without spending $500 Milllion, for me I don’t feel that we’ve successfully created a film that’s not only appealing to the masses, but that perfectly captures modern British culture. Until now.

Attack the Block is set in an East London council estate where Moses (John Boyega), Pest (Alex Esmail), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Jerome (Leeon Jones) and Biggz (Simon Howard) all live. Late one evening an alien crashes just outside their block, little do they know that this one alien is the forerunner to an invasion of the block.

Firstly, I would like to congratulate Joe Cornish on making one of the most exciting action films in a while on a budget of £8 Million. The action feels never overly glossy, but never too urban-drama brutal. It’s fluid between both and the blood only ever feels necessary, you don’t feel like the pain washes over you without any emotional response. It’s just a great testament not only to how controlled and lean Attack the Block is but to how talented Cornish is. The film boasts the tagline: “Inner City vs. Outer Space” and that’s exactly the sort of contrast that makes the film so enjoyable. There is that feeling of two worlds colliding together that most Hollywood blockbusters try to rustle up but most fail.  This feeling of two worlds colliding only adds to the drama and atmosphere of Attack the Block and raises it from being a cheap throwaway action flick to something more substantial.

All the characters in the film are incredibly well explored and through them you get a glimpse into some of the not-too-far from reality stories from the real life blocks in East London. The most tragic being Moses’, his back story not only touches on a real issue in the UK but also does it in a thought provoking manner. The more emotional story driven aspects of the film really dig into grassroot levels. You come out really feeling you’ve seen some of the hardships of living in the block. It is a joy to watch these underdogs fight their way to the top.

The film isn’t solely an action film, much in the vein of Shaun of the Dead, Attack the Block has itself deeply rooted into comedy. The humor, whilst displaying traits of Britishness (probably due to the Urban colloquialisms) is also entirely universal giving it a broader appeal and charm. One of my favourite characters in the whole film was the posh, Marijuana smoking Brewis who attempts to speak like the teenagers from the block. Brewis’ character is such a joy to watch, his awkwardness not only makes him hilarious but he’s not too far off someone you would come across on a daily basis.

I feel as if this review only touches on things in general and for that reason I’m sorry, but Attack the Block has so much going for it and to truly explore everything would take an age. It is amazing to see Cornish truly tap into modern British society and keep it to such grassroot levels whilst making it appealing to a mass audience. It’s a great snap shot of modern day Britain and a breath of fresh air for the British film industry. The UKFC may be dead and buried, but the talent is still alive and kicking.

5/5 (June 2011)

15 certificate

Review by LiveWire Young Film Critic, Jay Crosbie (June ’11)
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