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>
Mike Hodges was determined to make the film as gritty and realistic as possible, so he only hired documentary film-makers as his second unit directors. See more »
The white Sunbeam Alpine may be two different cars, one with front mudflaps and one without. Also in the interior footage as the Alpine is driven round the car park, all windscreen fittings such as sun visors and hood clips have been removed but are visible as it falls into the river. See more »
Mike Hodges and Michael Caine have made a timeless film.
Jack Carter, the reserved London gangster, travels north to Newcastle, his home town, to find the cause of his brother's death. He's warned by his bosses not to go, but refuses to obey them. We, and he, discover the reasons for the warning, which are intertwined with the details of his brother's fate, and watch Carter's quest for revenge reach its logical conclusion. The underworld life sets a kitschy vision of glamour - music-box decanter sets, flashy bespoke suits, and garishly decorated villas - against the grotty reality of arcade slot machines, pornographic 8mm films, and the claustrophobic grubbiness of Newcastle's industrial tenements. Carter, who prides himself on a style of detached shrewdness, navigates both worlds, until he discovers that they're intertwined, sickeningly. The corruption which provides him his living has tainted his own family. I think the centre of the film is the brilliant moment when Carter sits in bed in the flickering light of a projector, discovering the truth about his world. He weeps, silently, knowing what he must now do. But vengeance is all he knows, and it consumes him.
This story captures with great subtlety the coarse truths about poverty, and crime, which are as true today in Canada and the US as they were forty years ago in England. There's no heroism, no loyalty, no glamour. We feel a kind of sorrowful revulsion at the squalid reality of Carter's world, even as we fear the intensity of his quest for his brother's killers. And we realise we've seen a perfect film of its kind - exceptionally skillful acting, cinematography and editing, bringing to life a taut script. Never again will we fall for the false romanticism of crime.
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