Attack the Block

Movies, Action and adventure
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Attack the Block

What a relief: Only weeks after the release of John Carpenter's woeful The Ward, here comes a movie that salutes that director's genius in every frame and gesture. (Too bad it wasn't made by him.) In the U.K., Joe Cornish has a thriving career as a comedian and radio host; he also apparently watches Assault on Precinct 13 on a daily basis. Attack the Block, Cornish's dynamite behind-the-camera debut, takes the premise of an inner-city London housing project besieged by gorilla-like aliens and turns it into an elegant, deliciously wrinkly action film loaded with humor, racial tension and gloopy violence. Starring a tough-minded band of scrappy teens who actually do some solving, it's the movie Super 8 wanted to be---or should have been.

The invaders land mostly unnoticed amid the fireworks of Guy Fawkes Night; also in progress is the mugging of yuppyish nurse Sam (Whittaker) by a gang of young hoods. Ruefully, the kids, chiefly under the leadership of Moses (Boyega, a stern, solid presence), arm themselves with knives, beg for the medical assistance of their mark and take on the beasts who soon come tearing through the hallways of their tenement. Much like these expertly rendered creatures---frightening hairy shapes with glowing fangs---the movie flies through its paces, accommodating side plots of a friendly upstairs weed seller (Paul's benign Frost), a scary local gangsta (Jumayn Hunter) and some shrewd comments about the pride of turf warfare, irrespective of species. You can enjoy this movie as the meat-and-potatoes sci-fi flick it is, or, as with District 9, probe it for the elements of class consciousness and political rage that its makers smuggle in, like the best of subverters. And Basement Jaxx's pounding original score will own your iPod.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

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By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Friday July 29 2011
Duration: 88 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Joe Cornish
Screenwriter: Joe Cornish
Cast: John Sturges
Luke Treadaway
Jumayn Hunter
Kenneth Williams
Nick Frost
Jodie Whittaker
Alex Davion
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