When his brother dies under mysterious circumstances in a car accident, London gangster Jack Carter travels to Newcastle to investigate.When his brother dies under mysterious circumstances in a car accident, London gangster Jack Carter travels to Newcastle to investigate.When his brother dies under mysterious circumstances in a car accident, London gangster Jack Carter travels to Newcastle to investigate.
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.
- May 27, 2010