I can’t say that I ever watched a film that I absolutely loathed for the first hour, only for the last hour to change my opinion about the film altogether. This film had immeasurable potential out the gate pegged as a return to the same neighborhood depicted in Do The Right Thing, and actually Lee’s sixth film in the installment known as the Brooklyn Chronicles. I was further intrigued to learn that Lee was returning to the other side of the camera as well, as his presence on screen in his earlier films always illustrated and amplified his vision in ways that only he truly could. Add to the fact that he was reprising the role of Mookie for this film and I was overcome with anticipation, only to worry that I was watching a colossal disappointment more than halfway through. The initial letdown was that this film doesn’t embody the intensity that surrounded Sal’s Pizzeria whatsoever, and Mookie himself is hardly present. Furthermore the coming of age story is more quirky and bizarre than anything else, and the supporting cast does little to elevate at the script as I found the characters neither inspirational or appealing. Only Nate Parker who plays the enforcer of the projects gives the film some life, as his crew illuminates the depravity that is rampant in too many neighborhoods, as well as the overwhelming fear that permeates throughout the rest of the community left vulnerable.
Yet the main thesis of the film is the lesson that sometimes we cast aspersions in the wrong direction, and ultimately the ones we should fear often operate around us unnoticed. Clarke Peters plays Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse who is a prominent preacher in Red Hook, and also a grandfather to a young boy from Atlanta who is staying in Brooklyn for the summer. The boy is socially inept and without a father figure in his life, and therefore it is the idea of his mother that quality time with his grandfather will help turn her boy into a man. To be brutally honest the scenes that set the stage for this storyline are borderline cringe worthy and unwatchable, yet the fact remains that the payoff is magnificent, despite how shockingly disturbing it all is considering it arrives completely out of nowhere. I’ll refrain from revealing the twist in this case, as what a twist it is, and in fact it’s the film’s saving grace as the scenes that follow are far more interesting than the scenes that precede it. Therefore my final thoughts are that if you can make it through the first act, which I concede will be a tall order for many, you’ll find it all worth it when the film hits you over the head with a second act that reminds us all why Lee should never be doubted in the first place.