Going in, I really wanted to like this movie. Fresh faces (to me at least) in the leads as well as behind the camera. At the same time, some quality names like Terrence Howard, Elza Gonzalez, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes, etc. in supporting roles, suggesting somebody believed in this project. All in a gritty crime drama, set in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. And even though the Lower Ninth Ward is the other side of town from where I reside, who doesn’t like seeing their city on film? This was going to be good.
Make that “should have” been good. Instead, the overwhelming takeaway from this movie was disappointment. Let’s start with every last character being a cliche or caricature. Mix that with uneven dialog, pacing, and direction, and it all falls flat. It is more a haphazard attempt to be “real” than it comes across as in any way genuine. And it’s attempted grittiness and edginess really just amounts to gratuitous over-use of the n-word. And if that wasn’t enough, the story itself is deeply flawed, with several huge plot gaffs that almost make you want to pause and rewind when they happen, out of disbelief that they didn’t think you’d notice.
If you want to see how to make a fresh and impactful movie about young black men struggling against a system trying to hold them down, and becoming consumed in a world of gangs and crime as a result, watch the British import Blue Story instead. This one is just a wasted opportunity.