The film opens with statistics and facts of gun violence in the city of Chicago. Then we are played a song which the lyrics are written on the screen for us — in case we don’t understand — about the city of Chi-Raq. We are primed to have ourselves illuminated as Spike Lee sets the scene for a lyrically scripted farce as to the depths his world has sunk to. The problem with that, just like that wonderful sex that his protagonists withholds, when it doesn’t quite hit that spot after being promised something gargantuan in scale, we sit there wondering why we didn’t just get a documentary instead laying out all the facts clearly.
Movies, sadly, are entertainment. Even in prestige filled films that are laden with social commentary and most times too depressing to be described as “entertaining” they still manage to engage us in ways that never has us scratching on the doors of the theatre asking be freed as if we were the slaves in our seats. So no matter how important the message at hand is that the filmmaker wants us to understand, it’s his obligation to make sure that we are engaged by that message. Spike Lee, somewhere along the line forgot this concept a while back I believe.