Dead Presidents Reviews
gripping, gritty and poignant but not quite as masterful as Meance to Society.
It starts out with the disappointment facing the young of Harlem in the late 60's, then moves onto a string of depressing scenes from the war in Vietnam. Finally we get to what should be the best moments of the movie; the heist, but it's really just a strung out disaster which we could all see coming.
The Hughes Brothers are exceptional filmmakers, as they proved in their debut feature "Menace II Society", and this is a beautifully shot picture with a talented young cast. The violence is shocking, brutal and ridiculously overstated with the intent of making the movie feel real and it works in the first half. However, it's hard to accept that this young, first-time offenders would be this savage during the heist at the end.
Perhaps the best moments occur before Larenz Tate and his friends enlist, in the scenes where he builds a paternal bond with Keith David and his budding romance with Rose Jackson. It's a perfect portrayal of what life was during that time and place, and the directors know how to find just the right song to fit the mood.
What follows is visceral and electric filmmaking, brimming with verve and energy, but it misses several opportunities to say something of significance. The recent film "The Walking Dead" would be a better choice if that's what you're looking for, but "Dead Presidents" is thrilling entertainment showcasing two up-and-coming directors honing their craft. The vibrancy of their storytelling makes up for any holes in the story being told.