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Brotherhood (3 stars)

With solid performances and a great soundtrack, the final instalment in Noel Clarke's urban trilogy is the strongest instalment yet

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Brotherhood

Noel Clarke's final instalment in the 'hood trilogy comes ten years after the first, his feature screenwriting debut Kidulthood. While he has since matured as a filmmaker, it's proven to be a rocky road (with stinkers such as The Anomaly paving the way), and the same can be said for Sam Peel, the character – also played by Clarke – whose road to redemption we have seen unfold over a decade.

Sam, now settled with a wife and baby, is working two jobs to pay the bills, and beyond stressed when his violent past comes back to haunt him. His brother has been shot in an act of retaliation for Sam's actions which, in turn, leads him back to some dark places.

In an astute casting choice which will have his many fans rushing to the cinemas, hip hop artist Stormzy makes his acting debut and gets a decent storyline as a gang member having a crisis of conscience. (The repetitive use of the phrase 'shut up' is a nice and amusing little nod to one of Stormzy's grime hits.) Arnold Oceng makes a welcome and very funny return as Henry who gets dragged into the madness by Sam; an ongoing white lie regarding a Sainsbury's card proves to be particularly amusing.

This third film is essentially a self-aware urban western that maintains a gripping momentum once the shit hits the fan between the rival gangs, augmented by a grime soundtrack which adds an urgency to the face-offs. Though scrappy in its realism, Clarke has taken notes on how to address awful attitudes to women, delivered with a knowing sense a humour through a female gang member who calls out sexist chat. There are still, however, unnecessary boob shots and a silly honey trap narrative.

General release from Fri 2 Sept.

Brotherhood

  • 3 stars
  • 2016
  • UK
  • 104 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Noel Clarke
  • Written by: Noel Clarke
  • Cast: Noel Clarke, Ashley Thomas, Olivia Chenery
  • UK release: 2 September 2016

Sam (Clarke) is settled with a wife and baby, and is working two jobs to pay the bills, when his violent past comes back to, yes, haunt him. The final part of Clarke's trilogy has gripping momentum, some astute casting and a more mature attitude towards women, despite a silly honey trap narrative.

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