Tower Block

Directed by two first timers;  James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson, they take their experience and create a very passable offering.  Once you have overcome certain  hurdles with the setting first.

The setting is that of working class estate tower block which is being emptied with the residents moved else where. This comes on the back of a murder about a year previously where the killers got away because the local would not help the police.

As the film opens we are given small glimpses of our main characters, a drunk, some thug, working families, single mums and generally ordinary people As our “heroes” wake up one seemingly uneventful morning only to have a sniper fire in through their windows and start killing whoever he sees.

This, obviously, brings the survivors out to the corridor where they size what happed. Stopping here to reflect for a moment we need to forget the logistical issues, for example a tower block with residents only on one side, and those residents are on the top floor, the Health and Safety guys could make a whole other movie out of that.

I had to get that out of my system.  Once the shooting starts and the cast come together we have real start of the movie.  Within seconds it is obvious, we are not talking (Attack the Block , 2011 ) where our heroes defend the block (and the Earth) against terrifying aliens, of even (Dredd, 2012) where he battles out major urban warfare  both something  more subtle.  I was immediately put in mind of Lifeboat (Hitchcock, 1944) or Das Experiment, 2001).

What we have here is not a lecture in social ethics and morals, it raises the questions and answers them through the various cast members, we are then allowed to almost “judge” the characters by how they respond to being trapped and frightened.

Jack O’Connell (Skins, James Cook, 2009) plays the local yob Kurtis, who a day previous was forcing extortion money from his neighbours such as Becky (Sheridan Smith, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, 2001), a single women going about life as best she can. It should be noted that Smith flawlessly transitions from her normal comedy roles, as a matter of fact a number of the cast are better known for their more humorous roles.

As the story develops and people get killed we get shown more and more of the personalities of the people involved. Russell Tovey  (Grabbers, 2012, see below) plays a lonely depressed alcoholic trying to come to terms with life, while Ralph Brown (Killing Bono, 2011) plays Neville a retired soldier who together with his wife just wants a quiet life. In the chaos following the initial shootings it falls to him to deal with Kurtis.

This is a good and very watchable ensemble piece which thankfully stops short of patronising us. The supporting cast is made of some of the UK’s better known young actors and this definitely helped. What we have here is our cast trying to escape and in so doing needing to overcome the physical obstacles of the building, traps by the sniper and their own selves.

We are brought along as much by the characters as by the movement of the film itself. I am deliberately being vague about the plot; simply put the survivors need to escape, overcoming the sniper, themselves and their environment. This had the potential to be bad but managed to escape it

6/10 engaging movie which knows where to hold back and not patronise to the audience any more than necessary.

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