6 out of 10

Release Date: 21st September 2012

Director: Ronnie Thompson (I Am Soldier) & James Nunn (Green Street 3)

Cast: Sheridan Smith, Jack O’Connell, Ralph Brown, Russell Tovey, Julie Graham, Harry McEntire, Nabil Elouahabi, Steven Cree, Kane Robinson aka Kano, Jill Bailey, Monserrat Lombard, Michael Legge, Tony Jayawardena, Loui Batley with Jamie Thomas King and Christopher Fulford

Writer: James Moran


Tower Block is one of those highly implausible but thoroughly entertaining popcorn movies.  It’s a thin line getting the balance right between utter tosh and sheer enjoyment but this madness manages it.  Tower Block wins purely down to memorable performances, a hair brained plot complete with gigantic holes and wonderful dialogue.  When a film is this wantonly daft why complain?  Why  is there a need for any degree of scrutiny? Only the most cynical and jaded would toss a bad review its way.  The high profile plot, as it is, singles out the top floor residents of an otherwise empty tower block.  Due for demolition, the stubborn residents are sitting tight waiting for the Council to rehouse them.  Then one Sunday morning, a sniper begins to pick the residents off with cold blooded precision.  Huh? Yes, a sniper. What were you expecting?  A Ken Loach style treatise on hard council estate living?  Well to begin with, maybe, but it soon settles into what  could be Mike Leigh’s Die Hard.  This is the closest we’ll get anyway.  So to continue with the story, the survivors lie low in the communal corridor and either think of ways to escape or to wait for help to arrive.   To add stress to strife many of the survivors are at their wits end and are amidst a wave of mass panic after having just seen assorted loved ones plop face first into their coco-pops and brain matter.

So, who could be behind the killings?  Dodgy property developer (CHRISTOPHER FULFORD – MILLIONS), disgruntled police man (STEVEN CREE – THE KNOT) or could it even be Jeremy Kyle, taking his day job one step too far? Various types led by a feisty blonde in a Bruce Willis singlet (SHERIDAN SMITH – HYSTERIA) and a brilliant Jack O’Connell (EDEN LAKE) as a mad drug dealer and low level thug try out several doomed attempts at escape.  With a very high body count this means a death every five minutes meaning Tower Block is never less than fiendishly gripping.  The movie makes the most of it’s claustrophobic setting and although it misses several hundred ways to out-smart the sniper, it has characters you can actually root for.  For instance, the whole floor pays Jack O’Connell £20.00 per week protection money. When he says that he’s just going to sit the whole event out by getting pissed in his flat and going to sleep, he gets forced into earning his money! “What do we pay you for?” the most exasperated of the group rant. A brilliant twist amongst many familiar ones.  Amongst the other dwindling residents are reliable TV favourites like Julie Graham (BEDROOMS & HALLWAYS) as an over-protective mother and Ralph Brown (WAYNE’S WORLD 2) as an ex-military man who probably could have saved more lives if he had taken control of the situation instead of leaving it up to better looking yet clueless sportier types and alcoholics (RUSSELL TOVEY – GRABBERS).  UK Grime superstar Kano (TOP BOY – TV) also puts in a spirited turn as a thug who may have more to do with the killings than he’s letting on.  Well, you know, it’s Scooby Doo all the way here at the Tower Block, even down to the unmasking of the killer with a line that had me and Joe Pesci II in stitches.  Possibly the best line of the year! (I won’t spoil it!) (ed’s note from 2015 – I forgot it!)

To re-cap, it’s sheer entertainment of the low rent kind.  Don’t expect miracles but at last here is a film that I can happily recommend as “So Bad, It’s Great!”…  A Big Mac of a movie.  Extra props to Sheridan Smith and Jack O’Connell with their committed and very memorable performances.

6 out of 10


SEE JOE PESCI II’s fiendish review in the comments box below… HAHAHA.


One thought on “TOWER BLOCK

  1. JOE PESI II’s humorous counter-review BELOW….. Where he fears Julie Graham more than anybody else…>! (30.9.2012)

    Having read Brit Pic Dick’s review I wonder if we were watching the same film. (Eventhough I know we were as we were there simultaneously separated only by Brit Pic Chick.) Here then is a review which may be considered jaded and cynical, though I prefer to think of it as pedantic and curmudgeonly.

    ‘Keep those curtains closed if you want to live!’ Never has a statement been so loaded. OK, nobody actually uses these lines in the film (suggesting James Moran’s screenplay might have done with an extra polish) but it is both literally true, yet, ironically precisely what lands our protagonists in trouble in the first place; the further irony being that it is the search for a peaceful life which shatters that very peace; the further irony being that that very peace was in itself not peaceful but fraught with threat and danger. Welcome to Tower Block a film which feels like a wannabe Ken Loach might have been involved very early on before being booted off the project when some wannabe Jerry Bruckheimer said, ‘I know, let’s turn it into a shoot-em-up!’

    And yet the essential debates remain. What are our responsibilities as citizens in these perilous times? Do you turn your back when your fellow man needs help? Do you keep quiet under threat? Do you give in to blackmail? Do you take a stand? These are some of the questions that could have been asked in Tower Block. This could have been a fascinating examination of the issues surrounding our interactions with each other, a demonstration of Mr Cameron’s Big Society in action, or Occupy’s Occupy movement, about how people come together (or not) to face threat. When should you take a stand? When do you have no choice? And if so do you do so by arming yourself with some pretty high-tech weaponry and laying siege to an almost derelict tower block and try to pick off your moral inferiors with amusing accuracy and a little irony? The choice is yours.

    A 15 year old boy is beaten to death on the top floor of a block of flats scheduled for demolition once the remaining residents have moved. Three months later someone starts shooting at them. This sniper is an incredibly accurate and swift shot. Personally, I thought his skills exceeded probability but the film’s token computer geek spouted some technobabble which suggested it was all quite possible. The residents are the usual motley bunch: an unscary oik running a protection racket, a couple of mysterious foreigners, a supposedly elderly couple, a bolshie Scot, nerdy teen, an alcoholic, a sensible one amongst others. They reluctantly team up to do battle against their mysterious assailant but it all goes horribly wrong and most of them get killed.

    There are incidental pleasures: Sheridan Smith is good as the obligatory no-nonsense tough cookie who takes charge of the situation. That she does take charge is a bit odd as there’s a retired soldier amongst their number who is clearly responsible, intelligent, and resourceful, but Ralph Brown’s not as pretty as Sheridan Smith and she does get to fire a nail gun, and wear a diminishing number of tight tops, so she had to be the leader really. The first death is extremely good. Just at the moment when you’re thinking ‘this character is made from purest cardboard, I wish he’d die’ he does. And the last meal (or is it?) that our depleted band of heroes partakes in is an especially bizarre moment which will live with me for some time: I’m not sure what

    the directors intended here –was it pathos, comedy? Maybe this is the trouble with having two directors: they each saw in this scene what they wanted to see. What I saw was very funny, almost certainly unintentionally so, and I thank the two directors for never getting together properly to work it out. What I like about this film is that it starts as if it’s going to be a preachy, broken Britain talky one-set drama (and there’s nothing wrong with that in the right hands) but then takes an entertaining right (or left depending on your political viewpoint) turn into becoming a revenge-fantasy-with-exploding-heads. The gap between these two worlds is too great to manage skilfully, so the film-makers don’t bother, which is to their credit. It’s all a bit Barton Fink.

    But the film is let down in so many other ways. Jack McConnell is entertaining as our lovable bad boy with all the best lines, but he’s not remotely convincing. Even I wouldn’t be scared of him. I would’ve been scared of Julie Graham though, though I don’t for a second believe she’d have even considered leaving her son just to prove a point. The most bizarre line comes from Russell Tovey: ‘I’ve had worse Sundays’ he self-deprecatingly claims. Really? Someone should have made him come up with an example. He’s at the epicentre of a massacre after all. Or maybe it’s the drink talking. And would ANYONE think it was a good idea to get an alcoholic to climb down the side of a block of flats? Perhaps its worst crime is in its failure as a whodunit. It should be the work of but a few seconds’ thought to work out the killer’s identity. The fact that it is (a) obvious and (b) revealed in such a way as to make the denouement of an episode of Scooby Doo look pretty complex much sinks the film. So this is an entertaining film with plenty of ideas (some of them good) which you could never call an actual proper good film. A guilty pleasure.

    Most intriguing though is imagining our villain preparing for all this. He has to move a skip, buy a really good gun, draw some chillingly symbolic pictures, set up traps, make sure everyone’s actually in the building.. It must’ve been a logistical nightmare. And he must have had an accomplice. Tower Block 2 perhaps?

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