I was so looking forward to this movie. Ask the rest of FGSG. (Jenny: Confirmed, dear readers.) The minute I heard it was being compared to Assault on Precinct 13 and Escape from New York, they pretty much had me. I couldn’t wait. I wish I could say it was worth it. I waited a little while to write this review in case I was overreacting to the Carpenter comparisons. Nope. Over a week later, I still feel the same way. Sadly, Attack the Block is a disappointment all around.
Basic plot: A gang of young hoodies (the oldest is supposed to be 15) run around being jerks in their neighborhood. They mug a nurse who just moved in and are generally an unlikable bunch. Then aliens crash land in South London, forcing these boys and the nurse to team up and stop the invaders.
The idea is a cool one, and if I’m honest, this movie isn’t terrible. It’s just not that good. The acting is generally solid all around, but no one has much to work with in terms of character, and this lack of development is the film’s biggest problem. I mean, I assume we’re supposed to come to care about the gang and their alien-slaying heroics, but I just never got there. And that’s because there’s nowhere to get to. These characters are supposed to turn from angry criminal children with chips on their shoulders to world-savers, but there is absolutely no change in their characters. They just went from ganging up on nurses to ganging up on aliens. They never really stop being awful, so they never really elicit any sympathy. Moses (John Boyega), the gang’s leader, is clearly supposed to go from bastard to hero (who’s still kind of a bastard), but he never manages to turn the corner. If you’re going for an antihero lead, make sure there’s at least some aspect of the character the audience can appreciate, whether it’s there from the start or it develops over time. Comparisons to Assault on Precinct 13 are not really accurate except for the fact that both protagonists are criminals. Moses can’t compete with the cool and (eventually) noble Napolean Wilson. That’s a character you can get behind, even though he starts out a jerk.
The aliens look pretty good, but there’s nothing new there. There’s nothing new, period. Recent world events might have had a hand in my general dislike, but as a film on its own, I’m not impressed. Watch it in the background. Better yet, just watch Assault on Precinct 13 and see how a siege movie should be done.