Attack the Block is a modern British classic. I knew it from the moment the credits started to roll. What Joe Cornish managed to produce was, in my opinion, something very special indeed. Yet my anecdotal experience tells me Attack the Block is barely liked by the non-critic community.
I have always wondered why this was? Why don’t we ever speak about Attack the Block like we do Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz? I think the simple answer to this question is that Block is too real. I don’t believe Attack the Block is a parody like the Edgar Wright films – Attack the Block is a straight batting film about friends from a council block that happens to be in the middle of an alien attack.
If you have ever lived on a council estate, you’ll know that too much of Attack the Block rings true. It is difficult for me to think of any recent British film that understood what life is like on an estate like this one. The first thing that they got right is the utter and complete boredom the characters feel. A lot of the things that kids do on an estate stems from boredom, first and foremost - even criminal activity.
A white female friend told me (who may or may not now be my fiancée) that it is because Moses and his gang attacked Jodi Whittaker’s Sam that she couldn’t relate to the film at all. I understand where she is coming from, what Sam experiences at the start of this film must be traumatic but I believe it is crucial to this film. It is crucial because it shows that this film isn’t afraid of being honest or politically incorrect. It knows the stats about black crime in deprived neighbourhoods and it is not afraid to speak about those issues openly. I respect that.
It also goes on to show the behind Pest and crew’s braggadocios exterior there is (not in all cases) some scandalous parenting situation. These kids, in my opinion, are neglected by adults that don’t care where they are or don’t know and make no effort to find out (which is the same as the former in my opinion).
A lot of criticism is also given out to the language or, more accurately, broken English used in this film. To that I say, that’s the way they speak in the endz, innit? (I’ll get my coat...fam.)
In the middle of this deep social commentary, there is a hell of a film that breaks out. What always gets me about this film is how hilariously funny and how dark it is – forget what Kermode says. This is where the comparisons to Shaun of the Dead are apt.
I’ve known a Pest in my life time and every time Alex Esmail is on screen, for me he steals the show.
A lot of credit also has to go to the lead John Bayega who holds this film together like an actor twice his age.
After robbing Sam and being attacked by aliens Pest has this conversation with the nurse in her recently battered home:
“Pest: You're quite fit you know? Have you got a boyfriend?
Pest: You sure about him? Where is he? Cos he ain't exactly lookin' out for you tonight.”
I don’t know why, but that always has me in fits. This is an exceptionally funny and intelligent film about a group of British people that get a bad rep. I love this film because it leaves me with the impression that if given a chance, the scary kids on the block could be heroes... blud.