A vicious London gangster, Jack Carter, travels to Newcastle for his brother's funeral. He begins to suspect that his brother's death was not an accident and sets out to follow a complex trail of lies, deceit, cover-ups and backhanders through Newcastle's underworld, leading, he hopes, to the man who ordered his brother killed. Because of his ruthlessness, Carter exhibits all the unstopability of the android in Terminator, or Walker in Point Blank, and he and the other characters in the film are prone to sudden, brutal acts of violence.Written by
Mark Thompson <email@example.com>
Michael Caine was determined to show a more minimalistic and realistic, less "pornographic" form of violence than was generally depicted on screen. Carter's violent actions are restrained, business-like, and sudden, never using thirty punches when one would do. See more »
(at around 1h 2 mins) the screeching of brakes can still be heard, briefly, after the car has come to a standstill. See more »
The UK cinema release was cut to get an "X" rating by the BBFC with the stabbing of Albert edited to remove some shots of the knife. Director Mike Hodges later admitted that "The less you see of the knife, the more effective the scene is". The cuts were waived in 1993. See more »
a nasty bastard of a movie with a steel-eyed, cold but brilliant performance in the lead
Jack Carter is not someone you'd usually want to take home to your mother. He's a career criminal, a gangster in London whose brother was in Newcastle (his hometown) when he found out that he died under mysterious circumstances. Already we're on his side, since it was obviously not a typical drunk-driving accident that caused Frank Carter's death, and we want to see revenge and/or justice. But Jack Carter, that man with a near-permanent dour look on his face and a tendency to get violent, isn't a typical protagonist. He's something of an anti-hero, a nasty one at that, who is a perpetual womanizer (in one oddly hot scene he talks with a direct tone on the phone with a gangster's moll to take off her clothes and masturbate), and will hurt anyone he needs to, sometimes to extreme lengths, to get what he needs to know.
Certainly he's surrounded in a murky enough criminal environment. The Newcastle of 'Get Carter' is a place with sleazy gangsters betting big bucks and nightclubs with of-the-period music, and women running hotels with weathered looks on their faces. It's here that Carter goes on his investigation, like a hard-boiled detective without mercy. And as he digs deeper into what is at the heart of the mystery- that Frank Carter wasn't a saint, but got duped by the criminal elements and in a pornographic film that brings Jack to tears of rage- it becomes clear he'll have to knock a few heads, and shoot when he must... which is a lot.
Carter might be more unlikable if not for the star in the role. Michael Caine has a look to him in this film that recalls Alain Delon in the Jean-Pierre Melville pictures, specifically Le Samourai. Nothing can really flinch this guy, unless it's something that he actually cares about. But Caine gives humanity to a character that is on the move, almost always, and has to be on his toes when around unsavory characters. I loved seeing how Caine can just be great at looking around a room or a situation or looking over a person, and how when he gets angry, boy you better get out (even if, or sometimes especially because, you're a woman not dishing on what needs to be told). Caine helps a film that needs that star quality- other actors like John Osbourne as the Big Gangster Kinnear and Ian Hendry as Eric do well enough if only good performances- and where the film digs into some subversive, dark terrain, we have to keep watching it to see how Caine can pull it off.
Another perk for Hodges is how he deals with the action. Often his film will feel a little slow-going (never too boring, but of a time period, the 70's, when a story could take a little more time in establishing mood), but when action and violence come up it's genuinely shocking and thrilling. We expect to get some satisfaction seeing Carter getting his payback at the criminals, but here there's a dastardly twist as to how just rotten Carter can be with these figures. He goes to their level, and Hodges lets us go along for the wicked neo-noir ride. Some may find it too dark, or just a little too unrelentingly bleak with what Carter finds and how he gets his revenge. But there's the bittersweet part to it as well, especially in the last act, that makes it worthwhile.
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