The Hard Stop


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Hard Stop
"Two docs for the price of one? Both would have been better on their own" | Photo: Courtesy of London Film Festival

The shooting of Mark Duggan by police in the late summer of 2011 caused the Tottenham riots that spread throughout the country. This rage against institutionalised assassination, as perceived by black communities, triggered a national howl of protest. The message was clear: when will our voices be heard?

Duggan, a 29-year-old member of a local gang, was considered meat for the marksmen when news reached the armed response force of Operation Trident that this man was dangerous/on the move/tooled up. They stopped his mini cab and ordered him out. When he came out they killed him. They said he had a gun and was a imminent threat.

Copy picture

Those close to Duggan claimed he didn't have a gun. One was found on the other side of a hedge close to where he died. Did he throw it? Did anyone see him throw it? If he flung the gun through the back window of the car before getting out, how could he have been a threat?

The gun did not contain evidence of Duggan's DNA, nor fingerprints. The police were found not guilty of misconduct at a later investigation. Case closed. Get used to it.

As the subject for a documentary Duggan's story and its aftermath is fruitful to say the least. Writer/director George Ampousah drops the ball, however, by changing direction and exploring another aspect of the Tottenham experience, namely unemployment and the difficulty of finding work because of race, colour and everything connected to the Blackwater Farm estate where Duggan lived and a few years earlier had been the place where a policeman was murdered during a violent demo.

Ampousah concentrates on two black men, Kurtis, who was jailed for his participation in the Tottenham riots, and Marcus, who is a distant relative of Duggan. They are angry about the oppressive racism of the police, which has not changed, and the difficulty of finding a way out of poverty and into a decent job.

Marcus may have been a drug dealer ("£500 a day. Easy!"), but now he's married with children and wants to go straight. It's tough. He ends up cleaning toilets at an adventure park. It's a first step, he says.

Kurtis is different. He's a big man, tall and strong. It is difficult to understand what he says. It may be his accent, or it may be his mumble, but what he says is what others say. We won't go back to jail. No way, man. The police attitude is the same. He's known it all his life. Now he is working on a project to warn kids against the gang culture. He talks about Duggan as a victim.

Two docs for the price of one? Both would have been better on their own. There is too much driving around in cars and too much slow motion.

A missed opportunity? Certainly.

Reviewed on: 05 Jul 2016
Share this with others on...
Documentary about the death of Mark Duggan and the difficulty of finding work for young black men in Tottenham
Amazon link

Director: George Amponsah

Writer: George Amponsah, Dionne Walker

Starring: Marcus Knox Hooke, Kurtis Henville

Year: 2015

Runtime: 85 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

Search database: