4 out of 5 stars
Not having strong opinions either way for J.G. Ballard whose novel this is based on (I’ve only seen Crash and not even Empire of the Sun) or director Ben Wheatley (I didn’t rate Kill List much though I remember enjoying Sightseers) I had no expectations or any preconceived ideas going in to see this film. I therefore must admit my surprise as to how much I end up enjoying it. The high-rise building as a metaphor for society; the struggles and inequalities between people on different floors/classes and the ultimate disintegration of law and more importantly, order are articulately and entertainingly visualized on screen with the help of a very good looking cast headed by the man of the hour (dominating both big and small screens at the time of the film’s release) – Tom Hiddleston. At times, it does have a Twilight Zone/Tales of the Unexpected feel to it – which is absolutely the right tone for the film, but for me, it further invokes classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey; Clockwork Orange, Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner and others and, more importantly, manages to get away with it. The film’s stylishly 70s retro-chic and meticulous designed look dazzles in stark contrast to the serious and often nasty script which is full of layers of subtext and analogies. The narrative may sometimes feel disjointed but this adaptation is first class and the eerily prescient message is clear and astonishingly still relevant 40 odd years after the source material was written.