8 out of 10 

Release Date: 13th May 2011

Director:  Joe Cornish

Cast: Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Jumayn Hunter, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard with Luke Treadaway and  Nick Frost

Writer:  Joe Cornish


Director and writer Joe Cornish first and foremost gifts the sci-fi geek before anyone else with a retro-style synth score from the gods.  Paying immediate tribute to Ennio Morricone‘s score from The Thing (1982) he knows to win over the serious genre fans first. Early on in this very entertaining flick you know that this is very much a modern day remix of John Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13 (1981). During the intervening years though the world has changed. Instead of the disenfranchised being faceless demons represented as an almost supernatural force we are very much along for the ride with the “baddies” in Attack The Block.  The misunderstood youth become our heroes through a twist of fate.  Is this a populist attempt to de-fang the “cult of the hoodie” ? Who knows? It could be. But I finished writing serious critiques in 2003. Let a media student draw comparisons. So on to the plot, blad!

On bonfire night, a nurse played by Jodie Whittaker (VENUS) is mugged by five youths led by Moses (John Boyega – JUNKHEARTS) who happen to live in the same high rise block of flats as her.  The altercation is interrupted by a crash landing alien hurtling into a nearby parked car.  The gang kill the creature and take its corpse to be looked after in the local drug lock-up kept by a guileless and severely stoned Nick Frost (SHAUN OF THE DEAD).  So far so weird.  Later that evening more aliens crash land in the neighbourhood, only these Aliens are bigger, stronger and more deadly.  The nurse teams up with gang after the aliens lay siege to the ‘block‘.  To say anymore would ruin any surprises or a reasonable amount of invention and tension.

What makes Attack The Block so enjoyable is the cool action, brilliant script and streamline plot.  The cast are mostly strong, they could have done with a bit of overlapping dialogue (Robert Altman-style) to make it less stagey, but this is a very minor quibble.  This is the debut for many of the young actors asked to carry the bulk of the movie and they pull it off with aplomb (whatver that means). Familiar faces like Nick Frost, Luke Treadaway (HEARTLESS) and Jumayn Hunter (EDEN LAKE) are there to play the background.  The creature design is top notch and never once do you think of it as an effect.  The look of the second wave of aliens will be iconic, a kind of fluffy gorilla with the sharpest electric blue teeth.  Deadly and a nice riff on the scaly beast we’re usually expecting to see, check the alien in STORAGE 24 for instance.

Attack On The Block is hardly a game changer but as a sleek sci-fi actioner it ticks all the boxes. Great set up, wonderful dialogue, interesting character actors in supporting roles, an amazing setting, pace, great score, tributes to past masters whilst improving on an often abused genre.  Film snobs, let down your guard. 88 Minutes of one of the UKs best commercial films of the decade.


Love Brit Pic Dick



One thought on “ATTACK THE BLOCK


    This review is going to be short. There are a lot of jokes in this film and I refuse to divulge any of them. And one or two surprises. And it’s a really good film. And you should stop reading right now and buy/borrow/beg/download/steal/view a copy as soon as you can, if you like this sort of film. But what sort of film is it? Well, if you recall in ET THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL, Elliott is helped by a gang of kids who help to save his alien pal. This is like some twisted variation on that part of the story. In ATTACK THE BLOCK there is no kindly alien-adopting Eliot. There is only the gang of kids. And they’re (excuse language but this is a direct quote from the film) f*c*i*g monsters. And they’re out for alien blood. Unfortunately for them, the aliens are after their blood too.
    Stop reading! Watch the film.
    But if you do persist in reading on then you will find that I do have some Daily Mail style objections to it. But they’re just to do with kids being violent and stuff like that, but most of them pay for it, sometimes with their heads. So that’s all right. But is this really an accurate depiction of the youth of today? How very disturbing; maybe an alien invasion would be just the thing we need!
    Good things: the cast of (mostly) young unknowns are all brilliant. The gang members, notably John Boyega and Alex Esmail, are great. As are the excessively young and somewhat prodigious would-be gang members Probs and Mayhem (I’m not going to name them here lest fame goes to their heads too soon). Nick Frost is at his quietly glorious best. It’s a bit weird referring to Jodie Whittaker as the most experienced member of the cast (she only seems to have been around five minutes), but she is extremely awkward (in a good way) as a nurse forced into an unholy world-saving alliance with the kids from hell. Also delightfully awkward is whichever Treadaway it is here who plays the posh boy (Luke). (That is, it’s Luke Treadaway not a Treadaway playing a character called Luke.) Now, I was a bit worried about what the aliens might be like. The solution is rather wonderful, but I refuse to reveal what it is. See the film.
    Bad things: not much really. This is a good, small film, which achieves a lot more than it sets out to. (Can you sense a caveat on its way? Here it comes…) I have a severe, enormous problem with some of the events at the end; there is one significant plot strand which I disliked immensely (mind you, I have difficulties with the Parable of the Prodigal Son). Redemption’s fair enough, but, well, this was a bit more than I’d have liked. He should have died. (I hope you’re reading this after I told you to watch it.) But apart from that, I love this film.

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