Noel Clarke brings us a third installment in the series occupied by Kidulthood and Adulthood as Sam Peel (Noel Clarke) is pulled back into the life that he tried so hard to escape.
As the film opens things look like they might be stable enough for Sam after such a difficult time in the last two movies. He has a happy family unit with Kayla (Shanika Warren-Markland) and his two kids but there’s something dark and unsettling bubbling under the surface. Early on he admits that he’s afraid to spend too much time with them in case they turn out like him. He doesn’t see himself as a stable role model and he’s constantly looking over his shoulder in case any harm comes to them because of him.
Of course his fears are entirely justified as people come after him through his brother is shot as a warning and the danger only gets worse from there. This all forces him to resort to some old habits to sort this out.
Sam remains an interesting character and Clarke’s performance in the role is really impressive. As the writer and director it’s clear that Clarke understands Sam and the world that he lives in so the end result is a really strong one. His performance is very confident and Sam is very layered throughout. There are a lot of nice touches such as his inability to avoid temptation despite really wanting to. He is able to be tough and vulnerable as the scene demands and it all works thanks to smart writing and impressive acting.
The story all works really well with the stakes being clear at every point and the main villains of the piece constantly coming across as a threat. They aren’t the best developed but they suit the needs of the story and feel like a challenge to Sam. That turns out to be enough for what this film was trying to do but I would have liked to see a little more depth to them.
Other characters are the main problem that this film has. There are a lot of people in Sam’s life but they never feel like fully realised people in their own right despite capable performances from the main cast. The strongest presence other than Sam is Kayla but she disappears from the film for long stretches at a time. She makes a real impression when she’s around but more of her would have enhanced the film greatly.
Similarly Sam’s brother Henry (Arnold Oceng) is a memorable presence but gets relegated to comic relief much of the time. He has a really strong scene towards the end suggesting a world view that really works for him and comes from a position of experience so it would have been great to see more of that.
Despite its flaws Sam lives in a world that feels lived in with its own politics and relationships that come from spending lifetimes being built and developed. This film feels like a small part of that and it definitely works in its favour. There is also a strong theme of family and how it isn’t as simple as being blood relatives.
A well written and well acted film that exists in a world that feels impressively lived in. Noel Clarke does a great job performing as the lead with an equally impressive cast working with him. It’s a shame that the other characters aren’t all that well developed but they do feel like part of the world they live in. Sam is an interesting character and the story has clear stakes throughout.
- excellent performances
- a well developed world for the film to inhabit
- clear stakes throughout
- underdeveloped characters