Anti-Social full movie review - London's underbelly in stark realism and rite-of-passage journey
Following the journey of Dee, a working-class youth who drifts from his roots in pursuit of an art career but who is intrinsically influenced by older brother Marcus, a professional armed-robber and aspiring gangster.
Dee is a young man with many guises; motorbike courier by day, law-breaking graffiti artist by night, and side-line face London's trendy fashionista circuit thanks to his new girlfriend who is a model. It's a far cry from his family back home on a North London council estate who are entrenched second generation armed-robbers. Marcus leads a tight clique of 'smash and grab' blaggers (the robbery format which has in fact gone near epidemic in London these days), brazenly heisting London's top-end jewellery stores in motorbike raids, and he is managing to do this below the radar of the Flying Squad by keeping his boys and their accessory-to-crime girlfriends in check with the long established criminal codes.
As the social gap between Dee and Marcus widens, the story focuses on the brotherly love between them and the unspoken loyalty that goes with the criminal upbringing they have. Dee begins mixing with some influential art-dealers who like his anarchist style graffiti and anti-establishment attitude, while at the same time Marcus, who's robberies are now all too frequently making the nine-o'clock news, decides to stay one step ahead and moves into the drugs trade after convincing his boys to pool together their ill-gotten gains. Allying himself with some big time London gangsters and getting too confident in the underworld lifestyle of fast cash and flash nightclubs, he finds himself in an all-out, deadly violent, gang-war with a rival crew of drug dealers from the next neighbourhood over territory and 'ownership' of women. Dee loyally returns to North London in the middle of the violence to try and salvage what's left of his family but before he can make sense of it all, is pulled deep into Marcus' next job (a crime which in real life was Britain's largest ever jewel robbery).
"Anti-Social" recreates in acute detail several of the most highly publicised armed-robberies to have taken place in London in recent years, as Marcus' crew carry out their motorbike raids through shopping centres and have shoot-outs on the West End streets, including the infamous robbery at Selfridges when the robbers disguised themselves as women in Burkas. The film is an uncompromising drama which carefully combines the underworld with commentary on modern London life, and is something of a rite-of-passage story for Dee, the boy from the wrong side of tracks who wants to move to a better future. It contains an array of gritty, brilliantly mounted action sequences, some of which are reminiscent of a Michael Mann film which get the heart pounding, and there are moments of sheer brutality straight after scenes of everyday life, which unsettles but contributes to the sense of realism as the viewer is took on a journey into an unpredictable environment. Thankfully devoid of the usual hard-man, geezer clichés all too common in the Brit gangster sub-genre, the characters are on-the-surface normal guys who do extreme things in a parallel underbelly-society.