Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Arguably mistitled whodunit, which is rather more about just who Carter is going to get.

Rather a lot of people, as it turns out.

The terrific opening-credits – shot from a train - promise a cool piece of cinema, and in the end that's exactly what we get, ironically because the film is so uncinematic. There's no colourful filter-work, slow-motion or saturating everything with music here.

(although the UK's Channel 5 was screening a de-Anglicised version, with different dialogue dubbed-over for the US audience - a cinematic convention of sorts)

Even the fight scenes appear to be unchoreographed. The result is very much a documentary-feel, endowing the events with a rare sense of realism. In one scene Carter walks up a flight of stairs and through a doorway, and all we can see of him for a few seconds is his back. You just don't get grubby shots like that in the cinema nowadays.

I'm never much good at following mysteries – characters have to work hard for me to even remember who they are – but in this instance I'm not sure it really mattered all that much. The pleasure in this flick for me was the sheer look of the film. Newcastle appears thoroughly bleak, and is populated by a cast of ogres who also look thoroughly bleak. Even the events that transpire are... well.

There's a very strong piece of storytelling when Carter discovers an underage pornographic film. The makers of Get Carter can hardly show us - let alone actually shoot - the sort of footage that Carter is viewing, but since he is alone, there is noone to whom he can describe its contents either. And yet, director Mike Hodges deftly leaves us in no doubt as to what's going-on on that silent screen Carter's watching.

Things become a bit harder to swallow in the final act, which is a shame, but forgivable. The above-mentioned film-projector is conveniently lined-up and ready to go, which its owner doesn't hear through the door. Carter somehow convinces the local police to send a coupla' dozen cops in to raid a place at 6am, solely on the basis of an anonymous phone-call. A character gets shot in the head – well, films are notorious for making that look nice.

For all that, I wish this casual matter-of-fact tone of storytelling had not since been overcome by all the flashy stylised fantasies that films are almost always shot in today.

While there's nothing spectacular about Get Carter, it sure gets on with the job of telling its tale.


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