Attack the Block

Light, quick and fun are the three best words to describe this scrappy sci-fi indie.
Our Rating

Genre(s): Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi

Director: Joe Cornish

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

Year: 2011

MPAA Rating: R

Country: UK

Written and directed by Joe Cornish, and starring a cast made up of mostly unknowns, the spirited little film takes a standard-issue plot – namely, aliens invade Earth – and drops the action into a gritty South London housing project. Teenaged hooligans Moses (John Boyega), Pest (Alex Esmail), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Jerome (Leeon Jones) and Biggz (Simon Howard) are out one night, up to no good and mugging nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker), when what looks like a meteor crashes into a nearby car.

But it’s no meteor – it’s an alien, bruv!

Specifically, a white, hairy, chimp-sized creature that looks a bit like a piranha mated with a snow leopard and Gollum. It’s ugly. And nasty. And as soon as Moses kicks its ass, dozens of its much larger, black-as-night brethren begin dropping out of the sky in fireballs, with their glow-in-the-dark fangs bared and in serious attack mode.

Uh oh.

The fellas and their victim-turned-ally grab whatever weaponry they can find – a sword, some firecrackers, a motorcycle helmet – and spend the next hour or so fighting and fleeing the relentless extraterrestrials, encountering the local pot merchant (Nick Frost) and one of his baked customers (Luke Treadaway). Also hot on the group’s tail is a gun-toting drug dealer (Jumayn Hunter), who believes he’s been wronged.

What unfolds is a briskly paced, extremely lively single-location film jam-packed with local slang and thick accents and low-tech special effects that suit the material perfectly. The entire film is essentially set in a single location but it never feels dull or uninspired. Just the opposite, in fact, and the filmmakers definitely tap into their own creativity in terms of making the most of every stairwell, elevator shaft, parking garage and hallway. Likewise, the cast is fresh and authentic, and the camaraderie between them all – be it in goofy-teen delight or sheer panic – is always believable.

Its trailers and commercials plug the fact that the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World are behind the mayhem, and Attack definitely does have a similar vibe to those two movies – sort of cheeky and irreverent but still faithful to the genre. And, like its predecessors, a pretty entertaining ride.


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