Get Carter (1971)

 

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A London gangster returns to his home town for the funeral of his brother and declares war on the local mob when he learns the circumstances of his death.

Get Carter is a seminal British thriller and one of Michael Caine’s most iconic roles. Although set very much in the height of the swinging sixties, it concentrates more on the seedy underbelly of the times rather than the hedonistic chic of the likes of The Italian Job. Its unrelentingly bleak and nihilistic tone sets it apart from most thrillers of the time, taking a lot of cues from John Boorman’s Point Blank and sharing the hard-boiled tone of its American contemporary Dirty Harry. Caine is at his most charismatic and is always supremely watchable despite playing a fundamentally morally bankrupt and unsympathetic character; he is literally the “lesser of two evils”. Mike Hodges’ direction is rather lacking in flair and sophistication but this somehow adds to the gritty, ugly tone and it contains many highly memorable scenes.

It can seem more like a collection of highlights than a coherent narrative and it has dated in a way that Dirty Harry somehow escaped, but for fans of British Crime thrillers and Michael Caine in particular, it’s essential viewing.

7/10

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