Film trilogies have varying results. I usually find that unless you have conceived three movies and the continuous story ahead of time, then somehow the end result will fall flat. It’s mainly because you are trying to connect too many different elements that have been left behind as you’ve aged. It’s especially troublesome when you have closed a sequel in the most perfect way, only to open it in a need to earn more money from the series. Because who doesn’t love more money?
There are many successful trilogies, however, including Toy Story, Star Wars, and, of course, The Dark Knight. Can Noel Clarke make it a hat-trick with his Sam Peel film series, KiDULTHOOD, AdULTHOOD, and now BrOTHERHOOD?
The film sees Sam Peel return many years later since the events of AdULTHOOD. Seemingly piecing his life back together with children and a new wife, Peel works to provide and support his family. However, it seems he cannot shake the ghosts off his past completely away. When an old threat teams up with a new one, Peel is thrown back again into the criminal past he tried so desperately to shed. In order to save his family, can Sam Peel rise once more?
BrOTHERHOOD has a handful of pluses. There’s a lot of laughs to be had, intentionally I should add. The weird comedy that is definitely going to make you chuckle comes from Arnold Oceng’s Henry, unwillingly thrown into Sam Peel’s revenge ploy. Through utterly bonkers lie that he tells his wife to threatening a knife wielding murder with an action figure, Henry is surprising and a brilliant addition to the film. Clarke fits into bigger shoes as Peel and happily has the gravitas to perform the emotions of moving on whilst the old murderous elements of him resurface. Bending between good and bad, Clarke’s Peel is an invigorating character to watch.
Noel Clarke is a confident filmmaker and that shows in his use of camera work as well as the editing which has a flare when rushing through different scenes and moments. He shows strength in transforming a somewhat formulaic plot (you know, a criminal goes backs to his roots after establishing a safe and happy home…that one..) into a great capture of the gritty and grimy city. Within the framing and cinematography, the destitute glamour of criminal London is revealed and Clarke’s work is assured and unflinching as death, sex, and gangs are portrayed. In many ways, this harsh mirror to London’s underground that you may miss.
If that was the aim of Noel Clarke, of course, and not, perhaps, a clichéd and underdeveloped portrayal of women and drugs like a really overly done rap video. Look, I’m not one to judge because I’m privileged and somewhat middle class. But, I am a woman and despite the few inklings of “these women are being trafficked and controlled by a garishly overdone villain named Daley,” the constant need to show women walking around fully nude (and fully shaved) is irksome. It feels like they are there to drip off the wannabe-gangsters or allure Sam Peel away from his wife without much agency. The only two rounded females here come from Peel’s girlfriend Kaya who is staunch and strong to a talkative hoodie named Poppy who is quick to point out sexism and racism. Other than that women are either abused, punched, rapped, called “slag,” and, did I mention this? ALWAYS NUDE! (Were they not chilly?) It makes for uncomfortable viewing. Whether that was the intention or not, it feels like several thousand steps back in progressive female portrayals within cinema (those steps taken in heels and completely naked.)
For fans of the series and Noel Clarke as a director, BrOTHERHOOD is a great addition to one of his more famous characters, hitting the crime and bedlam of vengeance notes perfectly. However, for those uneducated in the series, the more disastrous elements of the film with grate your enjoyment.
BrOTHERHOOD IS OUT MONDAY 29th AUGUST