Attack the Block Movie Review - -

Attack the Block 

Reviewed by Sophie Whin on November 17th, 2011
presents a film directed by Joe Cornish
Screenplay by Joe Cornish
Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Luke Treadaway and Nick Frost
Running Time:
88 mins
Rating: M
Released:  December 1st, 2011



Attack the Block is the debut effort of screenwriter turned director Joe Cornish and is the culmination of a decade long dream to bring an aliens-get-their-asses-kicked idea to the silver screen. Unlike most recent sci-fi pieces, Cornish imbues his film with fast paced action, perfect pop cultural references and brilliant cinematography to jump start a genre that has been missing the elements of realism and a contemporary setting.

The film kicks off with the mugging of a young nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker), who during the chaotic London Bon Fire night, is trying to make her way home in the city’s southern quarter. Her assailants are a group of teenage ‘hoodies’ led by the laconic Moses (John Boyega), and after threatening Sam at knife point they are rudely interrupted by a meteor crash, which silences the group of teens and destroys a nearby car. After investigating the crash, the group tracks an unknown creature fleeing from the scene. It meets a brutal end when Moses takes it upon himself to eliminate the pint-sized menace. High on their own egos and machismo the group drags the carcass back to their home, ‘The Block’, bringing the body to their local drug dealer Ron (Nick Frost), who lives on the top floor. Whist toasting their victory with a well-earned spliff, more life forms begin to drop to Earth and these guys are much bigger and much more vicious than the first encounter. What follows is a race for survival as the hulking figures begin to systematically attack the block. The group of boys must determine how to stop the alien threat, whist saving those around them.

The most intriguing aspect of Attack the Block is the scenario of aliens literally landing in your backyard. Hollywood would have us think that the United States (especially New York and Los Angeles) is the only country in the world where aliens could possibly invade. Cornish turns this worrying trend upside down by setting his film in London and not just Thames and Big Ben London, but the nasty, gritty streets of Kensington. Teen gangs roam free and the housing situation is so insular that thousands of people are confined to massive homing estates, which serve as a type of self-sustaining community. In this film ‘The Block’ is controlled by the local drug lord Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter), who runs his lucrative business from Ron’s apartment and seems to be an echo of the future Moses is heading towards if he continues his miscreant ways.

Moses and his gang Pest (Alex Esmail), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Jerome (Leeon Jones), Biggz (Simon Howard) are all perfectly cast, with Alex Esmail taking the cake with his witty one-liners and constant references to pop culture. Cornish is very aware of his audience in this respect and is constantly shifting his focus towards the possibility of how teenagers would react to a certain situation and what the outcome to the reaction would be. Setting the plot around the group is a bit of a double-edged sword in terms of likable characters and audience connectivity. Are we supposed to like Moses in the end? Any teen that robs random unarmed ladies at night is definitely someone you want in your corner for an alien invasion but not in any other circumstance. Moses and the gang are the anti-heroes but in the end we’re still not convinced that we want to invite them over for tea and scones. The adults in Attack the Block are solid, with both Luke Treadaway and Nick Frost offering comedic gold and Jodie Whittaker standing in as the voice of reason. Nick Frost was perhaps a little underused but it is understandable considering the rapid succession of plot versus action.

The film is set entirely at night, which makes the enormous aliens seem all the more frightening and adds tension akin to modern horror. The characters are also forced to fashion their own weapons (unlike in the United States where you apparently have guns on stand by) from their own homes, including a knife, a samurai sword, a machete and an endless supply of fireworks. This makes for a more brutal confrontation between the aliens but also grounds the film solely in reality. Adding to this is a killer soundtrack and Attack the Block is a fantastic debut contribution that will certainly make you think twice about messing with the tweens hanging in your local car park.


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