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Clockers (1995)

tomatometer

79

Average Rating: 7/10
Critic Reviews: 14
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.

audience

75

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 9,555

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on Richard Price's grim best-seller, and directed by Spike Lee from a screenplay co-written with Price, Clockers takes the structure of a police procedural to build a chilling portrait of despair, hope, and the unanswered problem of black-on-black crime in an urban housing project. The film's haunting themes are vividly visualized during the opening credits, which run over police photos of dead young black men, shot and sprawled on sidewalks, in streets, and hanging over fences. Strike

R,

Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Jan 5, 1999

MCA Universal Home Video

Watch It Now

Cast

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All Critics (50) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (16) | DVD (4)

There is a force and focus in Lee's work, an absence of intellectual posturing and a willingness to let his material speak for itself that he has not achieved before.

September 22, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The performances are strong, but the spectator often feels adrift in an overly busy intrigue.

September 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A study of the urban dope-dealing culture and its toll on everyone who comes in contact with it, the picture has an insider's feel that is constantly undercut by the filmmaker's impulse to editorialize.

June 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The result is a more sober, mournful and meditative expressionism than you'd expect. That's not to say the film isn't suspenseful, but the director's distaste for the inner city's gun culture is clear to see. Superbly acted.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Helping make these points is as strong a cast as Lee has yet worked with.

August 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Has the strengths of Spike Lee's best work without the preachiness and gimmicky camera moves of his weakest.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Clockers leaves you with a sense of aching sadness, a regretful melancholy for the lives that have been blasted and the wrong decisions that have been made. Once again, Spike Lee has done the right thing.

July 18, 2014 Full Review Source: The Moving Picture Show
The Moving Picture Show

Spike Lee brings way too much baggage for the movie to work.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

Lee's film never recaptures the impact of the opening credit sequence, a grimly deglamorized tableaux of real-life crime scenes.

September 22, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Average Lee, but still enjoyable overall.

September 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Arguably Lee's best film since Do The Right Thing.

September 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Spike Lee gets a good perfromance from newcomer Phifer as the young crack dealer, but the movie is diffuse, paying too much attention to the urban environment and not enough to the personas and dilemmas of the central characters.

February 18, 2008 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Clockers is messy and didactic, but it's complex in a way that a tidy film can't be.

July 30, 2007 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

A fascinating and engrossing character study.

January 8, 2005 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

Sub-par Spike Lee

October 23, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

One of the best films of the 90's....a knockout

October 11, 2004
Moviehole

Decent urban drama.

May 1, 2004
About.com

A trilha sonora intrusiva acaba cansando, mas o filme se sobressai grašas Ó complexidade de seus personagens.

February 6, 2004
Cinema em Cena

A too-passive lead character sinks this otherwise interesting film.

December 28, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

Spike Lee brings a signature edge and richness to his film images, but must a filmmaker's distinctive style be so heavy that it interferes with the story itself?

May 20, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

Strong performances are reason enough for the audience to endure 129 minutes of Clockers.

January 31, 2003 Full Review
rec.arts.movies.reviews

A heartfelt but badly unfocused slice-of-urban life from Spike Lee. Depressingly typical of the director's efforts of late.

January 15, 2003
Flipside Movie Emporium

Audience Reviews for Clockers

Based on a novel by Richard Price, who co-wrote the script with director Spike Lee, this is a grim and gritty look at how a police procedural affects the residents of an inner city neighborhood during the aftermath of a murder and the subsequent investigation.

There are many players here, but the film predominately follows Strike (Mekhi Phifer)- a "clocker" or street-level drug dealer who works for businessman/supplier Rodney Little (Delroy Lindo). Though Rodney had illegal business dealings, he is also shown to be a mentor to the local youth, and he does give them guidance and opportunities, even if they aren't necessarily the most positive of things.

Strike finds himself in deep when he gets involved in the investigation of the murder of one of Rodney's rivals- a man Strike was told to get rid off. While the film does eventually reveal the truth, the bulk of the story probes whether or not Strike actually committed the murder. Besides pressure from Rodney, fellow clockers, and his own conscience, Strike also has to deal with the main cops on the case, played by Harvey Keitel and John Turturro.

This seems like a nice, simple, intimate story, and I would have been thrilled had it just stuck to being that. Instead, this small story is blown up, and used as merely a driving force in a broader story about the trials and tribulations of inner city life, specifically the issue of black on black crime.

I'm not as thrilled that this film was expanded into a lengthy epic, but I don't think that's a major issue. By having the film become so drawn out and broad, things tend to lose steam and focus from time to time, and the meandering leads to the grit and intensity losing their edge once in a while. But, when the film is on target, it's really on target, and makes for some compelling, well done, and entertaining cinema.

It's a decently well shot film, and the art direction and set design are suitably grimy, gritty, and show the plight of people in the inner city. An issue that really gets to me though is the music. Sometimes it's fine, but at others, it really clashes and sticks out. I'm all for ironic uses of music, but it's not really done all that well here, and seems kinda corny.

We do get some good performances though, and the themes and ideas are well established, but then again, I'd expect no less from Lee. The film does have its problems, but I don't think they're egregious enough to keep me from giving it the grade that I am.

You have to be in the right frame of mind, but if you can tap into this film's groove, and are wanting a broad tale, then sure, give this a look.
October 2, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

"See, dis is where all da money at, ma lil nigga. how you think i got dat fat-ass train set ova dere?"
July 21, 2011
LoughnerWasLucid

Super Reviewer

It's enjoyable at times, but it was a lot more of a small scope compared to Lee's other movies. When it wants to be political it's too obvious, but the rest of the movie is just a mediocre crime drama. Harvey Keitel, John Turturro and Mekhi Phifer all gave great performances, but then again Isaiah Washington was horrible. Really it's only interesting to people who are Spike Lee completists or fans of the individual stars. Otherwise, there's a lot better handled projects out there.
February 21, 2011
ythelastman89

Super Reviewer

A gritty look at the lives of 'Clockers' in a typical Brooklyn project, Clockers is both intriguing and unpredictable. With a fantastic supporting cast, its definitely one of Lee's better 'Joints'.
September 3, 2009
SirPant

Super Reviewer

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