Get Carter Review
This gritty, gruesome gangster movie is superbly set in the grimy, glum city of Newcastle. “Get Carter” is the epitome of the 1970s British gangster movie. It is a true classic, a superb debut by director Mike Hodges, and a gripping performance by Michael Caine.
The setting is perfect – a dismal, dreary, working class city. The horizon is always grey, the general outlook is bleak. This reflects the lives of those who live here and those who Jack Carter (Caine) will come across in this movie, and of course Carter himself. The individuals here are truly unique – take for example the 11-fingered man in the pub, the blind man in the betting shop – another reflection of the movie. It is truly unique, as are many of the movies which are considered to be classics.
Carter is a gangster from London. He travels up to Newcastle to avenge the mysterious death of his brother. He is cold, callous and doesn’t take any prisoners. Nothing will stop him from getting his revenge; nobody will get in his way. But the plot takes a shocking, unpredictable twist – it suddenly becomes more than just a manhunt.
Whilst on his vengeful journey, he learns that his niece has been involved with porno movies. This makes him even angrier, awakening the beast deep inside him. He is now fighting for his family’s pride and honour, losing his in the process. In his mind, Carter is the good guy, on a quest for justice. For a while we believe this too, but in the end we see him as a serial killer, a brutal thug whose death we do not mourn.
The murders become more violent as Carter becomes more incensed. The first victim is stabbed, the second is thrown off of a multi storey car park (landing on a car containing a woman and her two children), the third is gunned down in a daylight ferryboat ambush. The fourth victim we feel sympathy for. We don’t see her as one of the bad guys. She saves Carter, sleeps with him and then gets locked in the boot of her car. The car gets shoved into the river and she gets drowned. The last two murders are brutal. Carter kidnaps the woman responsible for involving his niece in the porno movies, orders her to take off her clothes and then infects with a lethal overdose of heroin.
The final victim, played by Ian Hendry, is the man responsible for the murder of Carter’s brother. He is chased along a beach which is littered with dirt from the nearby coal mines. He slips, Carter catches him. He batters him to death with his brother’s shotgun and dumps in the filthy ocean. Everyone who is responsible for the death of his brother and the humiliation of his niece is either dead, or in the case of the leader of the criminal gang (played by John Osborne) arrested by the police in a dawn raid. But that’s not the end of the story…
As Carter walks back along the filthy beach he is gunned down by a hit man – one shot in the forehead and he's dead. Was he deserving of this death; his spineless massacre of Newcastle mobsters was chilling, but all he did was fight for his family’s pride; is that so wrong?
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