After mugging a young nurse, a gang of South London delinquents encounter an alien being, which they proceed to kick the hell out of. Soon after, a horde of bigger, meaner aliens crash land, forcing the gang to become the only line of defense for their beloved block.
Those outside the UK may be unaware the Attack The Block’s writer/director, Joe Cornish, was once (and to some extent, still is) half of the cult comedy duo Adam and Joe, who’s nineties TV show and current radio show garners a very dedicated, if somewhat limited, fan-base.
Five years ago not many would have believed that Joe was capable of producing probably the biggest British film of the year, but after teaming up with Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World) to write the Ant-Man film for Marvel and the Tintin film for Spielberg, it now seems like a no-brainer.
And it is a very ambitious directorial debut, especially for a film made in England, where, for some reason, funding for genre flicks is generally passed over in favour of crime films, period dramas, or bio-pics. The concept too is quite challenging, making a bunch of predatory ruffians, the kind we would usually cross the street to avoid, the ‘heroes’ of the piece. While, from the outside, this may seem off putting, once the film kicks into gear, its relevance is slowly revealed.
Attack The Block starts as it means to go on, with an opening shot that is obviously reminiscent of The Thing and Predator, both of which remain direct influences throughout, but it is the John Carpenter connection that is most apt, as the other dominating (and perhaps most important) influence is Carpenter’s semi-classic, Assault On Precinct 13.
The creature effects are at once inspired and ridiculously minimal. The budget for the film was an estimated eight million pounds (twelve million dollars-ish), a piddling amount by US standards, so the avoidance of crappy looking aliens was achieved with simple but effective creature designs. The aliens are no more than a silhouette of impossibly jet-black fur that encases a set of glowing razor-teeth, and are played by free-runners in suits and prosthetics. CG, thankfully, is only used in a few scenes, and sparingly at that.
Everything else about the film is pretty much textbook. It looks slick, the acting, for the most part, is good, it jumps right into the action, the pace remains even and the climax is satisfying. My only real criticism would be that there is a lack of emotional resonance during the scenes when any of these supposed best friends are dispatched, but then, doesn’t that go with the territory in these kinds of films?
Also, some may find that much of the slang at work is quite impenetrable, but as was the case with HBO show, The Wire, those with a few smarts will develop understanding with the context of its use.
Alas: Dere’s bare wicked tings in dat film, blud, innit. Accept!
Translated: There are a great many things to enjoy about Attack The Block my friends, believe me! And further, though it isn’t a remarkably original piece, it is a breath of fresh air for us Brits and our film industry, and it certainly marks the opening of a directorial career that will most defiantly be worth keeping an eye on.
C grade – for originality
B+ grade – for storytelling
B grade – for acting
B grade – action
Overall grade – B