The film’s plot gets going in a hurry as a group of young hoodlums attempt to rob a young woman on her way home. The robbery is interrupted when a meteor crashes into the car next to them and an alien is revealed to be inside. The gang chases the alien down and kill it, taking it back to their “block’s” (a low income housing building) drug dealer/leader for safe keeping. When the group sees more meteors falling from the sky they head out to the closest one to kill more aliens; what they get is more than they expected.
The film is low budget and contained to roughly one locale and its surrounding grounds but it works nonetheless. The script is very smart and clever, writing in a lot of plot points that validate the small scope of the film. The aliens themselves are very simple, basically shadows with glowing jaws, but the film again does a great job of validating their potentially cheap look. The effects do look quite good though, especially in the big shots that need to look believable. The way the plot unfolds is also quite clever as characters keep intertwining with one another unexpectedly and I really liked the rationale for why the aliens are hunting these particular kids; even if the dialogue explaining it was the most forced bit of the movie.
The film is fun and while there are some scares and a couple tense scenes, the film is supposed to be a good time first and foremost. Making things so fun is a great group of characters that we can easily get behind and root for as they run for their lives. I really liked how the film redeems and reconciles relationships among our cast of characters, and in a way I can believe in as well. Our heroes aren’t safe either, with our main protagonist, Moses, getting injured in nearly the opening frame. The film can be gruesome and sweet, and Cornish does an amazing job of balancing those emotions and everything in-between. The score by Steven Price is excellent by the way, the soundtrack as well.
I don’t have any complaints with the film really, just a couple wishes for what could have been. The film’s scale and budget is used to near perfection, but I still felt like the action was a bit slow at times. Some cool moments are diminished by not quite living up to their full potential, but again, these things didn’t ruin the movie by any means.
The cast makes the characters work as good as they do and it starts with our hero, Moses. Yeah the name is a bit on the nose but John Boyega plays him with fantastic realism. The kid feels left behind and always on the defense, forced into a life he knows he shouldn’t be going down. The film uses the character to display some sad social commentary as well and I wish they would have gotten into that a bit more to be honest. Jodie Whittaker is cute, yet strong, as Sam who gets paired up with Moses after being his victim in the opening. Whittaker’s presence is strong and honest to the situation and I really hope to see more of her down the line. Alex Esmail provides a lot of the film’s comic relief and he is sure to find more work, as this is his first time doing anything acting wise, and he excels. Jumayn Hunter is fun and purposefully over the top as our human villain of the picture, though his character Hi-Hatz avoids demise way too frequently for my tastes.
In the end, Attack the Block is a really fun and entertaining genre film out of England. Joe Cornish proves to be a solid script writer and director here, making the absolute most out of his budget. Creative and affective creature designs lend themselves well to the enjoyment of the picture and work really well considering the film’s budget. Horror and comedy fans will both get a kick out of the picture and I am sure we will see a lot from the players involved here down the line.
Attack the Block is a B