STARRING: Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway, Flaminia Cinque, Joey Ansah, Lee Nicholas Harris, Chris Wilson, Terry Notary, Maggie McCarthy, Jacey Sallés, Adam Leese, Sammy Williams, Karl Collins, Jumayn Hunter, Danielle Vitalis

2011, 88 Minutes, Directed by:
Joe Cornish

I’m sorry, but we’re just all out of Liberal Humanism here . . .

Here’s a tough sell: Attack the Block is a movie that expects us to be sympathetic towards a gang of hoodlums of the variety that we recently saw rampaging through the streets of London, vandalizing and looting as they went their not-so merry way.

After all, the movie tells us, they’re not so bad once you get to know them and give them your wallet. Besides, they only rob people from other apartment blocks and not their own. I’m sure that will make Asyraf Haziq, the injured Malaysian exchange student who was famously mugged by youths pretending to help him during said riots, feel so much better . . .

One New Year’s Eve a nurse (Jodie Whittaker) on her way home from work is mugged by a teenaged group of hoodies, or juvenile delinquents for you non-Brits out there. The mugging is however interrupted by an alien creature that literally falls out of the sky. The bunch of underage toughs pursues the scared creature and kills it. Yup, welcome to South London . . .

And, yes, folks, the group of muggers are indeed the movie’s “heroes”. Later on some more alien creatures fall from the sky seeking revenge. The chances are however good that you will find yourself rooting for them instead of the cast of rather unlikable and interchangeable yoofs. Feel free to shout out “hard luck blood” and “innit” each time a character gets picked off by an alien monster as one reviewer wrote.

Attack the Block would like you to believe that their cast of characters are nothing but the Goonies fallen on hard luck. But when a character whines that the nurse’s boyfriend should rather be in London helping Britain’s youth instead of aiding poor people in Ghana you just lose it. Maybe those same yoofs who go on about how cack it is living in one of the world’s richest countries should spend some time in an African refugee camp before mouthing off about poverty!

Besides its unsympathetic protagonists, Attack the Block also suffers from unintelligible Brit accents. Viewers outside the UK would probably want to activate the English subtitles function on their DVD players. No wonder the movie is struggling to find distribution States-side.

On the plus side the movie is professionally made. Acting, special effects and photography are decent. The movie is fast-paced and never bores. Refreshingly the alien creatures don’t seem like bog standard H.R. Giger knockoffs of the sort we have been seeing in most sci-fi movies as of late. (Instead they seemed to be “inspired” by the dim-witted furry creatures in Jeff Smith’s Bone fantasy comic series, but never mind.)

Attack the Block can however never succeed in making us like its heroes or care for them. Also, despite the presence of Shaun of the Dead’s Nick Frost in a cameo as a stoner, the movie is never as funny as it believes itself to be. File under “really wanted to like it, but just couldn’t.” One can just easily imagine the crowd cheering on one of the heroes during the film’s ending dashing off shortly afterwards to loot an electronics store . . .


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