Adulthood (15)

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The Independent Culture

Adulthood is another British film that gets mixed up over whether it's a zippy crime thriller or a gritty exposé of underworld life. It's a sequel to Kidulthood, a minor 2006 hit that vindicated all of the Daily Mail's worst fears by depicting the teens of today as sex-crazed delinquents with knives in one pocket and pills in the other. It finished with Noel Clarke's school bully, Sam, smacking someone in the head with a baseball bat and being carted off by police. But Clarke is the writer of both films and the director of this one, so he gets himself back on screen by skipping forward six years to the morning when Sam is released from prison.

The gates have barely closed behind him before a stranger with a bowie knife tells him that he and his family will all be murdered within 24 hours, so Sam looks up everyone from Kidulthood to find out which of them might have put money on his head.

To give Clarke his due, the hair-trigger aggression of his characters is horribly convincing. After an hour with these unhuggable hoodies I was ready to go straight from the cinema to the estate agent to see about moving out of London. But while the street language and attitudes are credible, nothing much else is, and there's not enough urgency to Sam's quest. He's supposed to be hunting down a deadly foe, whereas he knocks on doors as if he's asking people to sponsor him for a charity fun run. Still, Adulthood is a perfectly respectable indie thriller.

And there are so few young actor/writer/directors working in Britain that I'd have to give Clarke "nuff respeck" for his achievement, even if his characters should all be locked away with Damian Lewis and Steven Mackintosh.