What makes Attack the Block different from the scads of other films in its genre is whose story is being told. The characters you meet in this movie aren’t the pleasant, wholesome type you encounter in Signs or World War Z. These are homegrown punks from Brixton, South London, who are trying to get ahead in the world and make a name for themselves. In the first 5 minutes of the film, we see the gang rob a woman, Samantha, at knifepoint, but are interrupted by a falling meteorite that hits a car nearby. Their leader, Moses (an allusion to the Biblical figure), goes to investigate and what they find is a pale, hairless, dog-sized monster that they quickly kill and parade around the block with. When the crew sees more meteors and shit falling from the skies, they go all bezoomny and break out their whole arsenal, which includes machetes, a samurai sword, a baseball bat, and an assortment of fireworks (appropriate given that guns are illegal in the UK). But what they find is much more than they can handle (“Big bear motherf—kers”).
Attack the Block can be appreciated for a number of reasons. It’s a kick-ass action thriller as we follow the boys on their voyage to safety, guided by the steadfast Moses (played wonderfully by John Boyega, star of this month’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens). They encounter a friendly drug dealer and his clumsy customer who’s always around at the wrong time, but also a couple of nasty gangsters and a run-in with the cops. On the other hand, it’s sharp social commentary on the way minorities are treated and subverts it, propelling its cast of unknown kid actors to star material. I appreciate the casting choices that were made and the skill displayed by first-time director Joe Cornish (writer of Ant-Man and The Adventures of Tintin), as well as the poppy, profane writing you’d expect from our age group. If you like action, comedy, and alien invasions, then this movie is for you!