As if it wasn’t difficult enough for a low budget film to gain an audience on opening weekend the film Anti-Social was faced with another problem. Due to the pre-summer blockbusters starting to hit the cinemas including the second Avengers movie just the week before, the release date for a number of films were set to avoid direct competition with the major releases. The outcome of this is that alongside Ant-Social there were another twenty new films vying for the public’s attention. Not all would be winners or even get a decent mention in the various review outlets.
Anti-Social focuses on the lives of two half brothers as they try and find their way in the world. Dee (Gregg Sulkin) is an aspiring street artist who uses his art to fight the system with his own brand of satirical works in the same vein as Banksy. Older brother Marcus (Josh Myers) is the leader of a gang who specialise in smash and grab raids on jewelry shops using motorcycles as their getaway vehicle of choice. Although moving in different worlds, the brothers are close and look out for each other. After a few successful jobs, Marcus and his crew move into the drug business with disastrous consequences that threaten the life of Dee, Marcus and everyone around them.
This is a film of two distinct parts with a little crossover. The Dee story line focuses on his art and the issues he has in turning this from a statement to a full-time profession. There are sequences where he discusses in depth the problems he sees with corporate influences on street art and its use for profit. For a film that was outlined in some quarters as a gangster film this is a not your typical plot. The other half is more familiar as we follow the gang on their raids. The sequences are efficient and flow well which lets the audience know what is going on at all times. There is one sequence where a fire fight ensues that is particularly well done. It does not appear to be flashy and the participants spend most of the fight firing and missing their targets. This is a refreshing change as in so many films the gang would suddenly turn into expert marksmen and be totally aloof while all hell breaks loose around them. These guys look genuinely rattled.
I am assuming that the title has more than one meaning in the film. From the outside, the behaviour the main characters portray is anti social. The opposite can be said when we get scenes of the main characters interacting.They are truly a community and share and support each other as in the relationship between Marcus and Dee and Marcus and his girlfriend. What the film is wanting to say is that you shouldn’t judge on initial appearances and try to look beyond the first impressions of people.
The principal performances really take the film to a level above the usual London gangster film. There appears to be an interesting, well thought out relationship between the brothers. It comes across really well on screen. Having only seen Gregg Sulkin in the US kids TV, The Wizards of Waverly place prior to this I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of his performance.
The direction and pacing of the film keep it fresh and really helps the audience to engage with the story on the screen. Credit to director Reg Traviss for this. Mixing the rapid visuals with an interesting cross section of dance and rock tunes doesn’t do the film any harm at all.
Overall, a tight and enjoyable drama which tries to do something a bit different with the crime drama genre. Recommended.