FIRST REVIEW: 'Brotherhood' Lives up to the 'Kidulthood' Legacy, and Stormzy Shines

Noel Clarke brings the trilogy to a close.

Image via Lionsgate


0 4 out of 5 stars
Noel Clarke
Starring: Noel Clarke , Arnold Oceng , David Ajala , Cornell S John , Shanika Warren-Markland , Jason Maza , Michael "Stormzy" Omari , Ashley Thomas
Noel Clarke
Duration: TBC P
Release Date:
August 29
MPAA Rating:

After ten years, plenty of lesser imitators and a fair bit of controversy, Noel Clarke is finally bringing his Kidulthood trilogy to a close. So does Brotherhood live up to the original? I'm happy to say it does, even if there are a couple of missteps. Much like the 2008 sequel Adulthood, Brotherhood has Clarke’s character Sam taking centre stage (after being the bad guy of the first movie). Sam is now settled down with a wife and two kids, working several jobs to make ends meet. But then his brother is shot by a mysterious assailant, and the criminal underworld he tried so hard to escape quickly starts to drag him back in…

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Honestly, it’s a very entertaining, highly polished London crime movie. But there is one little thing that bugs me, that I have to get off my chest first. While Sam was obviously a very important part of the original Kidulthood, it was far from just his film. It was an ensemble piece. Actually, it was even more about the kids Trife, Mooney and Jay. Adulthood pulled the Terminator 2 trick of making the bad guy the hero, and did so pretty well. But if this is meant to be the finale of the saga, then focusing almost exclusively on Sam seems slightly disingenuous. There are some very understandable storyline and real-world reasons for this choice, but it still makes it slightly unsatisfying. If this was just Noel Clarke’s new crime movie, this wouldn’t be an issue, but this is meant to be Kidulthood 3. 

And whereas in that film the kids’ exploits felt drawn from Clarke’s real life experience, there’s a lot here that it feels like it’s just influenced by other crime movies. That’s not a criticism per se, though — it’s just different. For instance: Jason Maza plays the slimey gangland boss manipulating Sam, and he’s hams it fantastically, swanning around with a hareem naked girls and acting like a James Bond villain — but it’s a long way from the realism of the first film. Then there’s a man to man fight to the death between Sam and returning Kidulthood bad guy Uncle Curtis that gets crazy melodramatic — it’s great, but it feels more like a John Woo movie than the council estate grit of part one. You just have to accept that the film is going for something a bit different. Yet, despite that change, it’s still a very personal script from Clarke. When I interviewed him earlier this year, he spoke at length about becoming a dad has changed him, and that’s a major theme of the film — Fatherhood would have made a good alternate title, thinking about it. The driving force of story is how far he’d go to protect his family, and while that’s hardly the most original character motivation, it comes across as very genuine and heartfelt, and gives the film real weight.

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