Attack the Block (UK, 2011)

High class exploitation

After two weeks on release in the UK Attack the Block was just shy of £2m at the box office; not bad for a British film but this terrific, brainy exploitation movie should be mopping up the dosh. Its marketing profile has been reasonable but it seems that the buzz for movies amongst multiplex audiences can’t get beyond the summer blockbusters. So it’s Pirates 4 and Hangover 2 that people hanker, and hunger, for not home produced, crowd pleasing movies. Hollywood’s hegemony is absolutely secure.

Which is a pity as this is a superbly made film featuring aliens invading Brixton. Everything about the film is familiar: it’s a Roger Corman creature-feature mixed with the Children’s Film Foundation films of the ’70s; it’s John Carpenter and Walter Hill… and it’s British. If the film had been set in the ‘hood’, rather than the ‘block’, and the trailer featured the gravelly-stupid American voice then I suspect it would have done much better at the box office.

If the film sounds derivative, the experience is actually refreshing. Writer-director Joe Cornish isn’t afraid to take risks; the film starts with nice white girl (Jodie Whitaker) getting mugged by nasty black boy (Moses played by John Boyega). Racially risky, however the film’s intelligence deals with the trope by fleshing out the lead character so we know him as an individual and not a racist trope. Cornish, a first time director and known as the Joe part of ‘Adam and Joe’, shoots the estate with great skill and uses the ensemble cast with convincing authenticity.

If you only go and see one move this summer, you must see Attack the Block.


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