Attack the Block

Remember, remember the fifth of November…because that’s when the film Attack the Block (from the producers of “Shaun of the Dead”) begins – on Guy Fawkes Night. If you want to know what that is, use a search engine like I did (there’s even a catchy poem for this British holiday, too).

Anyway, back to the film. It’s Guy Fawkes Night in London, with fireworks exploding throughout the city, a small gang of teens are looking to have a little fun. The gang has 5 people; the leader Moses (John Boyega), Jerome (Leeon Jones), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Biggz (Simon Howard) and Pest (Alex Esmail). During this “fun time” they mug Sam (Jodie Whitaker) a nurse returning home from work. During the course of the mugging an object falls from the sky striking a nearby car. While the gang is distracted, Sam runs off and calls the police. As Moses investigates what hit the car and what he can steal, something scratches his arm and escapes into the night. Moses is so furious, he and the rest of the gang give chase, eventually cornering and killing the creature.

They aren’t sure what the creature is but they know they can probably make money off of it, so they take it to Ron (Nick Frost), the friendly neighborhood drug dealer who lives in their apartment complex, for safe keeping. As the gang enjoys a “relaxing” smoke (don’t worry anti-tobacco people, they aren’t smoking cigarettes), Moses is approached by Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter) the local drug kingpin that Ron works for. Hi-Hatz likes the tough, street-smart Moses and wants him to be one of his dealers, a job Moses considers an honor to be offered.

As Moses’ gang gaze out the apartment’s window at the fireworks exploding over South London they see more aliens landing. They soon discover that these aliens are bigger, stronger, tougher and way more violent than the first one they encountered and, even worse than that, these aliens are coming after them. The gang decides that they have to fight back and protect their block. During one encounter with the aliens, Pest becomes seriously injured and they end up tracking down Sam (the nurse they mugged at the beginning of the movie) for help. Once Sam is convinced that they are telling the truth about the invasion she joins them and eventually a sort of mutual respect forms between her and the members of the gang. Unfortunately while they are fighting off the invasion, Moses’s gang has a falling out with Hi-Hatz. So just to be clear, at a point in the film, Moses and his gang have the police, Hi-Hatz with his crew and aliens chasing after them. Will Moses and his merry men be victorious or will they fall prey to ‘those clamorous harbingers of blood and death’? Sorry, felt the need to quote Shakespeare.

The movie is highly enjoyable with its unique twist on the sci-fi genre blended with a healthy dose of humor, believable action and great anti-heroes. While the movie is a low budget film, the cast put on a big budget performance. The special effects were well done and not over the top like so many other sci-fi action movies I’ve seen. While the movie is a bit on the campy side (which I do enjoy) I do want to point out that with the exception of the alien-thing the film keeps things quite realistic. One negative thing about the film is that because of the British accent and slang I did not understand some of the dialogue (I’m sure the British say the same thing about our movies).

I will be honest, Nick Frost was the driving force behind me wanting to see this movie and I thoroughly enjoyed his scenes but he only has a few scenes. Jodie Whitaker did a very nice job of taking the audience on a journey of a character who, at the beginning is both mad at and afraid of those who had mugged her, but as the movie progresses those feelings are slowly replaced with mutual respect, understanding and friendship. Jumayn Hunter portrayed such a unique drug kingpin I was actually rooting for him (don’t worry law enforcement officials, I will still “Say ‘No’ to Drugs”). The rest of the supporting cast all did wonderful jobs as well but I want to talk about the actors that made up Moses’s Gang.

You wouldn’t know it by watching the movie but this is the first film for John Boyega, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard and Alex Esmail; the second movie for Franz Drameh. Even before knowing that, I already thought these five actors did an incredible job in the film but after finding that out I was really blown away. Their five characters are the core of the movie that takes us on this great adventure. However I do want to single out the lead John Boyega, as his character goes through a sort of rite of passage in the film. He does an amazing job with the range of emotion that is needed all the while keeping the character as real as a sci-fi film will allow. I will definitely keep an eye out for future films with these actors.

4 out of 5 Probs & Mayhem (in movie reference)