December 31, 2005

John Singleton (USA 2005)

think of the film as a western revenge flick. everything will just be perfect from here on out, i swear to god. there's a preposterous nature to some of the actions taken in this film -- but only if you're watching it as straight drama; which it is not. John Singleton shot it as a western and i was bowled over by how much it worked. the writing is so well-done. it's not your Script 101 run-of-the-mill screenplay. David Elliott and Paul Lovett got the cruel and loving nature of brotherly love down without putting it in your face. the dialogue sounds real. you can sense that there's a life behind the relationships and it doesn't feel forced. one other thing i thought the writers and Singleton got right, for a minute, at least, was the departure of a loved one (it's no secret the story revolves around avenging a death). there's this one scene where the image, on its own, just simply related the feeling of having someone you love gone. if you haven't had it happen to you, i don't know if it comes through, but as someone who lost a loved one, i can tell you that i got it and it was heartbreaking. there's a real emotional core that starts this film out. oh, and the performances... wow. they're first-rate, from top to bottom. even Mark Wahlberg finally looks in his element. and no, he's not playing the same "character" he's played for the past decade (outside of his excellent novice performance in Boogie Nights). he's actually a real good leader here. but the most assured, and surprising, performance comes from André Benjamin. there's just a disarming ease that oozes from this man. he's still playing a character, though. he's not André Benjamin playing André 3000. it's the real deal. the only negative note i'd have to mention would be the flaky addition of the obligatory psycho "latina girlfriend". it's clear that the writers (or the people responsible for this) had no idea what to do with her. Sofia Vergara does the best to humanize this character, and it works incredibly well when she's allowed to do so, but there are way too many pointless hysterical scenes to work as a whole. but that's it. aside from that, this is an effective little film. i haven't followed John Singleton's career that closely since Boyz n the Hood and Higher Learning (which were excellent), i know he's had some difficult times in the past few years (2 Fast 2 Furious, anyone?), but here he shows that he's still one damn ballsy filmmaker! he's got it in him. i can easily recommend that you at least check the film out. it's one damn fine, entertaining little flick. but do think of it as a western :)

Posted by Sam | 12:32 PM |