Spike Lee cinematographer Ernest Dickerson starts off the pic promisingly, introducing a well-played quartet of New York ghetto youths and exploring their lives and frustrations in what could almost be viewed as an inner-city Breaking Away. After a sudden, tragic robbery attempt, the film takes a peculiar turn into the thriller realm, as one of the teens (Tupac Shakur) - high on the 'juice' of having killed the grocery store clerk - begins menacing his one-time friends.
Spike Lee cinematographer Ernest Dickerson starts off the pic promisingly, introducing a well-played quartet of New York ghetto youths and exploring their lives and frustrations in what could almost be viewed as an inner-city Breaking Away. After a sudden, tragic robbery attempt, the film takes a peculiar turn into the thriller realm, as one of the teens (Tupac Shakur) – high on the ‘juice’ of having killed the grocery store clerk – begins menacing his one-time friends.
Dickerson and co-writer Gerard Brown exhibit a sharp ear for dialog and have some real finds in their largely unknown cast, particularly Omar Epps as Q, the most introspective and reasoned of the four friends. Shakur, of rap group Digital Underground, is also impressive.
There are several lurches in story logic, from the sudden agreement of the group’s leader (Khalil Kain, giving a solid performance) to engage in the robbery, to Q’s puzzling relationship with a somewhat older nurse (Cindy Herron).
Paramount. Director Ernest Dickerson; Producer David Heyman, Neal H. Moritz, Peter Frankfurt; Screenplay Gerard Brown, Ernest Dickerson; Camera Larry Banks; Editor Sam Pollard, Brunilda Torres; Music Hank Shocklee & the Bomb Squad; Art Director Lester Cohen
(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1992. Running time: 96 MIN.
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