Riding on a wave of buzz since premiering at this year’s SXSW, Attack The Block is shaping up to be the British film industry’s breakout hit of 2011.
We’re introduced to Attack The Block’s focal characters in somewhat auspicious circumstances. Members of a hooded gang, Moses (Boyega), Pest (Esmail), Dennis (Drameh), Jerome (Jones) and Biggz (Howard) are interrupted as they mug young nurse Sam (Whittaker) as she walks home late one night. When a fiery meteor blasts down from the sky, crash-landing into a car on the street, Sam makes a run for it before leader Moses turns their attention to the flaming wreckage. Taken by surprise as a mysterious monster jumps out of the car, the gang chase after it before bludgeoning the creature to death with little more than brute force.
Taking their prize back to their council block and up to a friend to get his opinion on what it is, soon more fall from the sky, and Moses and his gang have to fight to save their lives, and, ironically, Sam and their neighbour’s lives too.
Whole-heartedly British in all the right ways, Attack The Block is a lot of fun and a very pleasant surprise on the horizon. The action and suspense are nicely built-up and feel refreshingly unformulaic in a genre that normally follows the exact same three-act structure. Writer/director Joe Cornish brings a great deal of energy, dynamism and exuberance to the whole production, with a race of monsters so scary, well designed and suitably iconic. The mysterious unknown nature of their abilities and make-up is played nicely throughout.
Casting a bunch of unknowns at the head of the cast was always going to be a big risk, but on the whole they cope adeptly with the pressure and responsibility of leading the film, so expect to see each actor in more films in the future, though given their opening salvo, it’s hard to ever be truly emotionally invested.
This is perhaps what holds the film back from Shaun Of The Dead territory, and Attack The Block seems to lack that certain something to really set it apart. Even after their redemption, the focal gang still aren’t entirely likeable, but that’s a flaw that would have r equired an entirely different story arc to correct, and it’s still a very strong British monster movie and a great idea, and ode to South London, to base it all in a council block.