Time Out says
It’s exactly ten years since Noel Clarke’s teen-friendly drama ‘Kidulthood’ hit screens. The film showed a gritty side of London, which had barely been on screen before, portraying life in the not-posh bit of west London with a sense of realism.
As well as writing that first film, Clarke appeared as school bully Sam. His character returned in the sequel ‘Adulthood’, after finishing a prison sentence for murder. Now, in this final instalment, Sam is settled, living with a lawyer girlfriend and kids. That is, until, bad guys shoot his brother and his life spirals out of control again.
The film is at its best when it feels most realistic. When hoody-wearing kids mock Sam’s out-of-date slang, it fizzles with energy. But as we’re introduced to its Essex lad villain Daley (Jason Maza), things veer slightly too far into Vinnie Jones’s gangster movie territory. Still, rapper Stormzy holds his own in a cameo as a troubled kid, Arnold Oceng is hilarious as a clueless dad, Henry, taking on the tough kids, and – despite the majority of the film rippling with misogyny – it’s actually tough girl Poppy (Rosa Coduri) who gets most of the best lines.
If you enjoyed the first two films in Clarke’s series, then this is the closing chapter you were looking for.
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A fitting end to a solid British trilogy 10 years have passed since ‘Kidulthood‘ appeared and took many by surprise. Now we have the end of Sam Peel’s journey. Again written/directed/starring Noel Clarke it is a mature and worthy closing chapter of truly thought-provoking series.
Where Clarke really needs to be commended is for mediating on the issue of how teens can be taken off the path of destruction. Whilst the previous two films focused on the intricacies when trapped in this world this, the final film, looks at how to stay out of this world. It’s almost as if Clarke exchanged the anger the prior two films reflected for something deeper and more reflective. This is an aspect that is epitomised during a discussion between Henry (Arnold Oceng) and Yardz (Stormzy in his feature debut). The sequence is quite literally life-or-death yet Henry manages to establish that Yardz is stuck on a path he doesn’t really want to be on. He wants to write comic books.
For some this scene – as Clarke admitted during the Q&A – may seem ludicrous or unbelievable. Yet, for this writer who works at a school in East London, it was heart-breakingly real. Having had simillar conversations with students (albeit without weapons or threat to my life being involved!) it felt hugely important to see Clarke highlighting such a reality. It would be easy to just show Yardz as a villain with a tracksuit and weapon. Clarke shows him to be a teen with a dream in need of a break.
There's a lot to reflect on, a lot to enjoy and a lot to wince at (because it's good - very visceral violence!) Immensely well-made on a low budget - much deserving of it's UK Box Office number 2 spot.