© Wild Bunch/Capelight/Central

Attack the Block
U.K./France 2011

Opening 22 Sep 2011

Directed by: Joe Cornish
Writing credits: Joe Cornish
Principal actors: Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Luke Treadaway, Alex Esmail

How to describe a fantasy film in such a way that mainstream viewers line up to see it? Attack the Block was the closing film at the travelling Fantasy Film Festival which showed in Hamburg in August (2011). The closing slot is just as much an honor as the opening film. Luckily for us, it has now returned mainstream for those who missed it before.

Moses (John Boyega) is a 15-year-old black gangster who, with his team of four multi-racial friends, rob a (female) nurse named Sam (Jodie Wittaker) on a dark street in South London. She is on her way home to her apartment in Wyndham Towers, where the young boys, called The Blockers, also live – a neighbourhood of poverty, drugs and violence. She goes to the police to report the robbery, and the boys follow a strange vision which falls from the sky during a celebration of fireworks. It is an alien, which they kill and try to sell to a drug dealer named Hi-Hatz, who also lives in Wyndham Towers. From here the film accelerates as the police walk into a trap, the neighbourhood is overrun by more of the same aliens, which climb the outside walls of the apartment tower in an effort to attack. Sam suddenly finds herself aligned with her robbers in a unified attempt to save the community. Moses suddenly matures when faced with a new responsibility.

The film moves fast – I could hardly take notes for fear I would miss something – and logically to the next step. There are delightful small parts, e.g., two young boys who emulate their heroes; Brewis (Luke Treadaway), a suave rich boy who buys drugs; and Ron (Nick Frost), a hippie who is the look-out for Hi-Hatz (the big man on the block, although physically a little squirt, played by Jumayn Hunter). The common fear brings opposites together, and all characters literally grow in their roles to become smarter and better role models. This entertaining film will appeal to all ages. (Becky Tan)

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