A vicious London gangster, Jack Carter, travels to Newcastle for his brother's funeral. He begins to suspect that his brother's death was not an accident and sets out to follow a complex trail of lies, deceit, cover-ups and backhanders through Newcastle's underworld, leading, he hopes, to the man who ordered his brother killed. Because of his ruthlessness, Carter exhibits all the unstopability of the cyborg in The Terminator (1984), or Walker in Point Blank (1967), and he and the other characters in this movie are prone to sudden, brutal acts of violence.Written by
Mark Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sir Michael Caine revealed on the DVD commentary that he named his dog Carter. A friend of his, who had never heard of this movie, assumed he named it after Jimmy Carter. See more »
As Carter (Michael Caine) checks each stall in the men's room while searching for Thorpe, one can see on the wall at the end of the men's room the shadow not only of Carter, but also that of the cameraman filming the scene. See more »
Mike Hodges and Michael Caine have made a timeless film.
Jack Carter, the reserved London gangster, travels north to Newcastle, his home town, to find the cause of his brother's death. He's warned by his bosses not to go, but refuses to obey them. We, and he, discover the reasons for the warning, which are intertwined with the details of his brother's fate, and watch Carter's quest for revenge reach its logical conclusion. The underworld life sets a kitschy vision of glamour - music-box decanter sets, flashy bespoke suits, and garishly decorated villas - against the grotty reality of arcade slot machines, pornographic 8mm films, and the claustrophobic grubbiness of Newcastle's industrial tenements. Carter, who prides himself on a style of detached shrewdness, navigates both worlds, until he discovers that they're intertwined, sickeningly. The corruption which provides him his living has tainted his own family. I think the centre of the film is the brilliant moment when Carter sits in bed in the flickering light of a projector, discovering the truth about his world. He weeps, silently, knowing what he must now do. But vengeance is all he knows, and it consumes him.
This story captures with great subtlety the coarse truths about poverty, and crime, which are as true today in Canada and the US as they were forty years ago in England. There's no heroism, no loyalty, no glamour. We feel a kind of sorrowful revulsion at the squalid reality of Carter's world, even as we fear the intensity of his quest for his brother's killers. And we realise we've seen a perfect film of its kind - exceptionally skillful acting, cinematography and editing, bringing to life a taut script. Never again will we fall for the false romanticism of crime.
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