"Dead Presidents" by Yojimbo
Yojimbo - wrote on 04/15/12
An intelligent update of blaxploitation flicks from the 1970s, Dead Presidents is the story of Anthony, a promising young student who upon his return from the Vietnam war finds his old neighbourhood completely transformed. Without a job, suffering post traumatic stress and unable to feed his young family he becomes embroiled in a plan to rob an armoured car. Unfairly appropriated into the slew of movies from the "hood" in the early 1990s, this film from the Hughes brothers (Menace II Society) is a clever blend of coming of age, Vietnam war and urban crime dramas. Larenz Tate heads a young cast who all acquit themselves well, although none can match the dominating presence of veteran character actor Keith David; even the normally excruciating Chris Tucker is pretty good here. It's full of memorable scenes taking a lot of stylistic cues from Goodfellas, particularly the gripping heist sequence and it's all complimented perfectly by a wonderful soundtrack of the best of American soul and funk of the period. I think it would have benefited from a non linear timeline to break up the episodic nature of the script and considering the power of the build up, it ends in something of a whimper; the Hughes brothers feeling the need to hammer home the "crime doesn't pay" message at the expense of a satisfying narrative conclusion. But considering the many disparate elements cleverly combined and some excellent set pieces, it's a strong and worthy action driven crime drama with a message.