7 April 2002 | bob the moo
Tries to be meaningful but is really one big smug cliché with a stupid confused message
When South African native Vusi returns from 15 years in America he finds himself a stranger in his own home. He has come to bury his father but is asked by his mother to find his youngest brother who has gone missing in Johannesburg. Checking out an address Vusi meets one of his brothers friends Karin, and finds that his brother has stolen money from a drug dealer - creating more problems for Vusi as Muki is willing to kill to get his money back.
This starts with flashbacks to South Africa during the early 80's, where we find Ice Cube ys, you heard me was one of the student leaders of the uprising for change. Years later he returns, bringing with him a heavy monologue that lectures us about drugs being the new trap for the black man and how he must help the kids etc. The story itself never really gets interesting the only interest is the possibility to learn about life in S. Africa, however even that is a bit stereotyped.
The monologue makes the film feel even heavier than it is, but when the film eventually settles in the guns n' gangstas ending that it promises it appears to have confused itself. The film lectures about making the right choice as men, about the evils of drugs in fact Vusi makes it his mission in USA and S. Africa to help kids stay in education etc. However after all that lecturing, a happy ending only comes with murder, violence and guns is that the films message? That drugs are bad and are a global trap for the black man and the only way to stop them is to leave education programmes and murder anyone involved in the deals? I wouldn't have seen it this way if it had just set itself out as another thriller with an African twist, but because it is message heavy until it gets guns, I feel that it wanted to have it both ways when it can't.
Ice Cube is watchable, even when he is in rubbish films, here he is OK but is really pushing the laid-back yank thing too much. His voice over is so preachy and monotonous that at times I thought he was falling asleep in the studio. Hurley looks sexy (despite working in a strip cub where no-one gets naked!) but her accent wanders all over the place from English to African and back again. Ving Rhames plays a sort of African Marcellus Wallace the first dialogue scene he has all we see is the back of his head
very Pulp Fiction. His accent is good but his character is nothing new.
Overall this `action' movie is dull the interesting cast make it worth one watch but no more than that. The mix of `stay in school kids' and `just say no' is too heavy and labourious, but is made even more pointless by the film's conclusion that the best way to deal with criminals destroying an area is to get guns and kill them!