I pride myself on being a lover of film first and a Jamaican second. A lot of people will come to me and talk to me about the newest films at the cinema and we end up in a discussion about the merits and drawbacks of certain movies. I always tend to end up at an impasse at some point where they will begin to laud the film for certain particular set pieces and or the fact that the story happened to occur in Jamaica. At times I happen to find those things distracting as opposed to intriguing.
A couple months ago I ended up in a conversation about the purpose of film. A friend of mine said that film exists for the sole purpose to either entertain or educate its audience, while I don’t agree with that statement completely I do believe that it’s a nice benchmark to set for most movies. This movie however failed to entertain me for the mere reason that it I hold stories of this genre, gang driven dramas, to a higher level than what was presented to me, and the film also failed to educate me on the topic of inner city violence for the mere reason that I live here and know about it already.
If you’ve ever watching Third World Cop, another film directed by Chris Browne (the director of Ghett’A Life), then you’ve seen the inner community setting that he tries to highlight with this film and it hasn’t changed that much since then. The area remains just as divided as it was before and also just as poorly acted.
I feel that this movie was meant for two groups of people: either the people in foreign markets who don’t know that much about the garrison violence that occurs in Jamaica; or the people in Jamaica who’re all over the age of forty and feel that everyone else in Jamaica doesn’t know that this is happening. The problem with that is that I don’t belong to either of those groups and like the parties in the film (and real life Jamaica) I don’t partake in either of their parlour magic that they seem to have working on the masses and therefore a lot of the education that the main character learns throughout the runtime of the movie becomes time that I waste in the theatre.
Many may say that that other films that I laud and fail to truly educate me on the topic at hand, since I walk into the movie with previous knowledge, do the very same thing. However, in most cases when that happens I tend to laud the film for other artistic qualities. Since this movie resembles none of those, that you may see in a Fincher, Gondry, Malick, Nolan or Aronofsky film, then the film begins to drag and then you start to pay attention to all the things that makes movies (as a whole) derivative.
I know that a lot of Jamaica will praise this film, mainly due to the underlying message that the film wants to put across (which is a good and true message), but I felt it could’ve been done better.