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A work of mournful maturity that sacrifices little of its director's signature energy, Clockers is an admittedly flawed drama with a powerfully urgent message.
All Critics (51)
| Top Critics (15)
| Fresh (35)
| Rotten (16)
| DVD (1)
Clockers may be Lee's strongest film since Do the Right Thing, but he runs into trouble at the end when he tries to tie up all his threads in neat bows...the passion of this raw, mournful urban epic remains in spite of the false moves.
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.
The performances are strong, but the spectator often feels adrift in an overly busy intrigue.
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.
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.
Helping make these points is as strong a cast as Lee has yet worked with.
There's no denying the movie's greatness: the depth of the characters, the urgency of its narrative, the nightmarishness of its vision.
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.
Spike Lee brings way too much baggage for the movie to work.
Lee's film never recaptures the impact of the opening credit sequence, a grimly deglamorized tableaux of real-life crime scenes.
Average Lee, but still enjoyable overall.
Arguably Lee's best film since Do The Right Thing.
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.
"See, dis is where all da money at, ma lil nigga. how you think i got dat fat-ass train set ova dere?"
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.
My favorite part of this film is Lee's use of color. Through the production design and the use of reversal film stock, Clockers' colors really pop. Creating a world of vibrant colors to go along with the complexity of the situation at hand.
The film is a little bit of everything. Part cop film, part gangster, part family drama part neighborhood drama. Unfortunately the whole doesn't add up to the sum of it's parts.
Solid performances and great craftsmanship can't save this film. Not to say that it's bad, it's just remarkably unremarkable.
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