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The Hard Stop (2015)

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The police killing of Mark Duggan in London, 2011, ignited the worst civil unrest in recent British history and made headlines around the globe.
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Marcus Knox Hooke Marcus Knox Hooke ... Himself
Kurtis Henville Kurtis Henville ... Himself


A documentary that reflects on the 2011 killing of Mark Duggan, a young, black, British man, at the hands of London's Metropolitan Police. Duggan was pulled over by police early one morning, and minutes later, was shot dead. This event sparked the now-infamous Tottenham riots and made headlines around the globe, but, as so often happens, the issue soon dropped from the news reports. Picking up the story where the media left off, George Amponsah's documentary The Hard Stop brings it back to its roots in Duggan's neighbourhood, following his friends Marcus and Kurtis as they fight for justice and search for meaning, while struggling against ongoing discrimination in their daily lives.

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Release Date:

15 July 2016 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Down by Law See more »

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Ga Films See more »
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One sided, unpersuasive documentary
30 December 2016 | by davideo-2See all my reviews

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

In August 2011, 29 year old suspected gang member Mark Duggan was shot dead by armed police on the streets of Tottenham, while they executed the titular heavy force procedure. This sparked a spate of rioting and mayhem across London, that gradually spread to the other major cities across the UK. The facts surrounding what lead up to the shooting and the narrative of Mark Duggan as an individual appear to be somewhat skewed, and filmmaker George Amponsah here casts a shadow on Marcus Knox Hooke and Kurtis Henville, two of Duggan's best childhood friends, as Hooke prepares to be sentenced for his role in the riots, and Henville goes about trying to find a job, while they both await the outcome of a trial that will decide whether their friend was lawfully killed or not.

The summer of 2011 is etched in my mind, and probably the minds of most other people in the UK at the time, as being the only real time when the law and order we take for granted in our everyday lives completely broke down, and terrifying mayhem and pandemonium broke out, the likes of which I'm glad to say I personally managed to avoid. But no one could have failed to notice the aftermath, or the sense of apprehensiveness it caused in people. Afterwards, some tried to say it had been building up for a while, and that the Duggan gentleman's death had been the final straw, and it's a narrative Amponsah seems to have latched on to in this one sided and unconvincing film that tries to warm us towards two of Duggan's dubious friends.

In amongst the present day events, Amponsah is inclined to take us back in time to the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985, in which PC Keith Blakelock was murdered, and use this as a launch pad to fuel his narrative of police hostility toward the black community that has apparently persisted for three decades, during which time many officers will have come and gone. It's certainly used to try and explain the mind sets of his two chosen subjects, and the decisions they made and the way they are. Sadly, despite their general affability toward the camera, neither still manage to come off as the types you'd be happy passing in a dark alley one night, injecting 'you get me' into seemingly every sentence and still displaying elements of the cocksure, swaggering 'hood life' attitude that seep through the cracks of their front and make them unsympathetic figures.

The ambiguity of who Duggan was, and the true circumstances surrounding his death will probably always be tooed and froed, but he was undeniably part of a pretty corrosive, ugly culture that your average person, black or white, probably wouldn't have met their end at. Amponsah may try and balance it out, quoting the number of deaths in police custody over the years at the end and pointing out that Duggan was falsely claimed to have been involved in a shootout, but the fact remains he's produced an unbalanced, uneven and unconvincing documentary that fails to provide any counter argument and has its sights clearly pointed one way. *

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