Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hoodlum (1997)

Director:  Bill Duke

Writer:  Chris Brancato

Composer: Elmer Bernstein

Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Tim Roth, Vanessa Williams, Andy Garcia, Cicely Tyson, Chi McBride, Clarence Williams III, Richard Bradford, William Atherton, Loretta Devine, Queen Latifah, Mike Starr, Beau Starr

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Power is measured in enemies.

Plot:  In 1934, the second most lucrative business in New York City is a lottery know to the locals as "the numbers". Someday, Madam Queen, the powerful woman who runs the scam in Harlem, is arrested. Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson takes over the business and must resist against the invasion from merciless mobster Dutch Shultz.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I loves me some period gangster pictures.  I've seen a lot of them and there are a lot of really good ones, too.  This isn't one of them.  At over two hours, it's too long.  One of the problems I have with it is that character actions and some scenes take too long.  The camera lingers a second or two more than necessary.  That's either the director or editor's decision and it's just one of many things that keep this from being a lot better and more fun than it is.  I'm OK with one dimensional characters sometimes because an actor's performance can take it and have fun with it.  Fishburne is just drab, though.  On the other end you've got Tim Roth running for mayor of Over-the-Top-Ville.  Sometimes he's alright and sometimes he's a cartoon villain.  The romance between Fishburne and Williams is flat, cliche and boring.  And the fight choreography suffers from the same phoniness.  Everyone is obviously pulling their punches and the camera lingers long enough for you to see it.  This is where tighter editing would've improved these scenes.  At least they brought on the great Elmer Bernstein to score the picture but even that isn't given much room to shine as it's often too soft on the soundtrack.  I really wanted to like this one but I was bored by the pacing and lack of overall oompf this picture needed to make this a fun and enjoyable ride.  The MGM DVD sports a good anamorphic widescreen print as is the only extra with the theatrical trailer.

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