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>
(at around 1h 14 mins) After Carter has dunked Glenda underwater in the bath and pulls her up again, his shirt is soaking wet. As there was no big splash and as Carter never fell into the bath at that time, there is no need for his shirt to be that wet. See more »
This is one of Caine's best roles and undoubtedly one of the greatest gangster/crime films ever made. It is unrelentingly harsh, gritty, and bleak in showing the nasty world of Carter.
Few characters are truly likable or admirable and most have a mix of good and bad. This applies to Carter himself and even the bystanders or victims. Everyone is portrayed as flawed somehow, even those who are tragic. This is one of many aspects that adds to the realism of this film.
This grittiness is true not only of the world of crime, but the entire world of the early post-industrial Northern England, once at the forefront of the industrial revolution but by then a depressed backwater that had yet to feel the true benefits of recent social and economic changes. It thus provides some subtle social commentary as well, although one may easily miss it.
In addition to its raw grittiness, the film is also very intense. There is a building tension throughout, and a palpable that things are not right. At the same time, the events, in particular the action and violence are rather slow but relentless.
In fact, the way the film presents the violence and action is one of the keys to its greatness. It is an unusual, fascinating, and very powerful depiction. There isn't gore or even lots of blood or the like and, like the rest of the film, it generally progresses slowly and calmly. It's not exhilarating or glamorous, but instead deliberate, relentless, and, above all, cold. The coldness of the violence and how Carter in particular, but others as well, kill and hurt in an unfeeling, perfunctory manner makes it seem all the more harsh.
Another interesting aspect of the film is the juxtaposition of the idea that someone can force or change events around him against the feeling that one can merely react to events beyond his control. Both of these themes seem to clash in Carter and his actions, for one of these themes may at times appear to be what's happening, yet in the end it seems that the other exerts its dominance.
Ultimately, this is superb, extremely gritty, and powerful drama. It contains action and violence, but it is not an action film and most expecting a non-stop action film, with flashy fighting, "getting the bad guys," etc. may well be bored.
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