Friday, February 17, 2017
Directed By: Justin Tipping
Written By: Justin Tipping & Joshia Beirne-Golden
Cinematography By: Michael Ragen
Editor: Dominic LaPerriere & Tomas Vengris
Music By: Brian Reitzell
Cast: Jahking Guillory, Christopher Meyer, Christopher Wallace Jr., Kofi Siriobe, Mahershala Ali, Nessa Ismail
Brandon is a 15 year old whose dream is a pair of fresh Air Jordans. Soon after he gets his hands on them, they're stolen by a local hood, causing Brandon and his two friends to go on a dangerous mission through Oakland to retrieve them.
In a way this film reminds one of DOPE. Though surprisingly this tale has a much harder edge. Most of the movie takes place over 48 hours
The film is a coming of age tale with some dark humor or at least putting some humor in scenes even when they look to be more serious or dangerous.
The film sets off with something that is identifiable The desire and seeking of sneakers. Which seem to offer an identity as well as a status symbol. Which most in the audience can identify with.
There seems to be an absence of parents throughout the film they are there we just never see them for the most part and the few we do who are fathers are so deeply indebted into the streets and gangs they are questionable father figures at best having guns, drugs and booze around their toddlers and babies. Seeming to doom them to the same Lifestyle of It damaging them st a young age.
Mahershala Ali is a commanding presence in his few scenes. That really ground the film's reality and conscience. As he seems to a degree to have doomed his own older kids. Whether or not they choose it or were just affected by what they grew up around
The film is more an odyssey as the main character and his friends go on a journey to find the neighborhood gangster who took his shoes and seeking help from his criminal kinfolk who offer advice more than anything and warn him of the dangers of his actions. While essentially continuing on his quest affecting all around him and seeking them deeper into despair and trouble over something g that started as simple as sneakers.
It's fascinating to watch as the anger seems to grow over such a simple thing.
The film even includes a scene of seduction where a character gets with an attractive girl and they disappear into the bedroom but are never shown or told what happens as when they emerge neither looks particularly happy.
Nor is it ever mentioned again. Which feels like being distracted by sirens from the path. Though luckily not as a set-up
Throughout the film the main character identifies nor has an imaginary companion in important scenes of an anonymous astronaut dressing in a space suit to signify his constant feeling of being alone in a strange environment.
Though the film tries to humanize the main villain by giving his some depth. It also tries to give him something to relate with by having him be a young father and make it seem like he got the sneakers specifically for his child. Even though he clearly has the money. It still makes him look like an unrepentant thug who bullies and just takes whatever he wants. So while the film never makes us feel any sympathy for him really. His presence is always felt like the shark in jaws only we see way more of him the. We ever did if the shark at least in the first film.
This is a man who robs children and has 5 of his crew jump a small teen just for his shoes then wants to shoot him when he refuses to give them up.
Though really other than Mahershala Ali. His is the only other performance that comes off as commanding and scary
What really helps the film is the chemistry between the main actors as they are believable as friends. Look the age of their characters. Prove their friendship and are all funny and compelling in their own way.
Christopher Wallace Jr. who plays the heavyset joker of the crew is actually the son of slain biggie Smalls so in scenes of danger you are continuously hoping he doesn't get killed.
The film shows the rights of manhood but in this neighborhood could also be do or die. It gives more of a realistic look at growing up in the hood, but doesn't go overboard on the bleakness.
At least the film ends on a sign of hope. Which at times can be rare in tales such as this.