12 O'clock Boys


12 O'clock Boys

Critics Consensus

Visually striking and grippingly fast-paced, 12 O'Clock Boys asks thought-provoking questions with admirable subtlety and restraint.



Total Count: 48


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,454
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Movie Info

To Baltimore locals, the 12 O'Clock Boys are hooligans - a group of urban dirt-bikers that perform death-defying stunts at excessive speeds through traffic and impressively evade the hamstrung police, who must adhere to a no-chase policy to maintain public safety. Yet they are heroes to Pug, a bright, young adolescent living in the city's dangerous Westside neighborhood with his charismatic mother Coco, extended family, and a menagerie of animals to which he tends in his long-standing hope to be a veterinarian. Yet as his obsession with the 12 O'Clock Boys grows, his desire to join the bikers begins eclipsing everything else in his life, much to Coco's dismay. Filled with stunningly kinetic footage that puts the viewer on up-close ride-alongs with the bikers, 12 O'CLOCK BOYS provides a compelling and personal story of a young boy and his dangerous, thrilling dream. (c) Oscilloscope

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Critic Reviews for 12 O'clock Boys

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (20)

  • A short, pungent, ambiguous portrait of the poorer sections of Baltimore and the young men who get their kicks riding dirt bikes through the streets en masse, popping wheelies and dodging the police.

    Feb 13, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • Documentary filmmaker Lotfy Nathan explores the outlaw appeal of an inner-city Baltimore dirt-bike gang through the eyes of a 13-year-old wannabe member named Pug.

    Feb 10, 2014 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • It could have romanticized its subjects, portraying them as outlaws and folk heroes. Or it could have gone the way of moral panic. To its credit, [it] does neither of these things - or, rather, it does both, in the most subtle and insightful way possible.

    Jan 31, 2014 | Full Review…
  • Take a closer look, as Lofty Nathan does in his freewheeling debut feature... and bike gangs like the 12 O'Clock Boys start to differentiate as more than just a dangerous nuisance.

    Jan 31, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • [Pug is] a fiercely individual child, but, inevitably, his predicament also symbolizes how poverty can warp a good boy's nature.

    Jan 31, 2014 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • [It] spectacularizes black criminality for white middle-class viewers, the primary audience for the festivals and art houses where this film will have its career.

    Jan 31, 2014 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for 12 O'clock Boys

  • Feb 01, 2014
    '12 O'Clock Boys'. Tragic as both a character study and broader social commentary on what people live for in their day-to-day struggles. Dangerous escapism as seen by outsiders looking for the temporary kind is darkly ironic. Lotfy Nathan found someone special in Pug. Bright, ambitious, destined for doom. Nature nor nurture have been particularly good to him as a young boy, and it doesn't look like that cycle is stopping anytime soon for him and others in Baltimore. What's been eating away at me ever since I walked out of the theater is how much Nathan's decision to document Pug's quest drove him even further. Would he have done everything he did if a camera wasn't on him? The ending seemed particularly exploitative. You see the pursuit of power, fame and notoriety, driven all the more by social media. The film ending where it does, I'm afraid of what effects this will have on the next generation of Baltimore's 12 O'Clock Boys.
    c0up   Super Reviewer
  • May 02, 2013
    A good if slightly odd documentary. There is nothing triumphant in the expressions of urban black youth on their dirt bikes in Baltimore. They are being a pain in the ass and yet somehow they have some type of glory in the neighbourhood. The activity clearly should be just stamped out.
    John B Super Reviewer

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