A gang of teenagers, living in a council estate in South London are casually mugging a woman when an alien suddenly falls out of the sky and starts snarling and clawing at them. They promptly kick its face in and drag it over to their drug dealer’s weed room for safekeeping. While biking around afterwards, the police pick them up and arrest Moses (Boyega), when suddenly a bigger, hairier alien rushes over and kills the police. The kids make a run for it while the aliens, police and their drug dealer – who is pissed off at them for attracting police to the area – are all trying to get their hands on them. They take refuge with Sam (Whittaker), the woman they mugged, while they try and stay a step ahead of their pursuers.

This film is genius! It’s a social treatise disguised as an alien invasion. It shows the lengths that a poor, young black man has to go to save his loved ones because he can’t rely on or trust the police. Under ordinary circumstances, he gets arrested when he hasn’t done anything; so he knows that if he calls the police to help him against the aliens while there are corpses everywhere, he’ll get framed for everything.

 The aliens are not the main draw here. This isn’t the kind of film that you watch to gawk over the amazing alien graphics. This is a low-budget film with aliens that look more like ink-black, furry apes with razor-sharp fangs. In fact, the aliens could easily be compared to Dobby, Gollum and the Gremlins. We see our first alien within the first five minutes and from that point on the film is a hubbub of activity.

There are gunfights, car chases; bikes crashing down stairs, knives flung ninja-style, combative use of fireworks and a liberal dose of people running for their lives. The only time the action slows down is when we’re focused on one of the stoner characters; and even then you know that something particularly loud is going to happen within minutes.

The gang members do a really great job. Boyega as Moses is the disaffected leader. Left alone with pretty much nothing in the way of adult care or guidance, the police’s attitude to young black men has pretty much made it certain that he’ll turn to the drug dealer for help. Ironically, the drug dealer is the only adult who treats him with respect and consideration.

Whittaker as Sam provides his white middle-class foil. It’s through her frequent admonitions for him to call the police that we find out just what he thinks of the police and what they think of him. Esmail as Pest, one of Moses’ friends, provides most of the wisecracking comic relief, while Treadaway is great as Brewish, a hipster stoner who is inadvertently caught up in the madness and frequently wishes that he were back in his middle-class life.

Attack the Block is smart, hilarious and super entertaining; a perfect blend of science fiction, comedy and action.