A standard gangsta bang-bang movie with a script like a rap song benefits from charismatic performers and smooth writing and direction by Vondie Curtis Hall, who plays it like an urban western — a strong, quiet loner takes on a corrupt man who runs the town with the help of a girl gone wrong with a heart of gold.
O2 (singer Tyrese Gibson) is out of prison and determined to stay straight and take care of his son, Junior. But his car is stolen, with Junior asleep in the back seat. His only lead to finding his son is Coco (Meagan Goode). O2 needs to raise $100,000 in one day to get Junior back from local crime boss Meat (rapper The Game). Coco agrees to help for half of whatever he raises.
They rob warring factions of bad guys, trying to distract them by pitting them against each other. And they rob bank safe deposit boxes. A character calls them a modern day Bonnie and Clyde, but they are more like a modern day Robin Hood because they only steal from rich crooks. The safe deposit boxes all belong to Meat.
Gibson has a strong, appealing presence and he makes the quiet scenes with Coco and Junior as compelling as the action scenes. Meagan Goode, who has been the best thing in many bad movies, gets a chance to show off her range. She has to be a hustler and she has to be open; she has to be tough and tender; she has to be beautiful without caring whether she is beautiful or not. Goode and Gibson act like they know and care about these characters and expect us to as well.
Parents should know that this is a very graphic and violent movie with frequent gunshots (many characters wounded and killed), car chases, and other kinds of peril and injury. A child is kidnapped and held for ransom and the death of another child is described. A character’s hand is sliced off and he is slapped with it. Characters use drugs and manufacture and deal drugs, steal, cheat, and betray each other. There is frequent strong language including the n-word. There is a non-explicit sexual situation. The movie engages in a lot of gangsta stereotyping but a strength of the movie is the portrayal of a loving and devoted father.
Families who see this movie should talk about the choices made by O2 and Coco. What made them decide to trust one another? What made O2 decide to trust Lucky?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Cradle 2 the Grave and they will enjoy seeing Tyrese in 2 Fast 2 Furious and Meagan Goode in You Got Served, Deliver us from Eva, and Biker Boyz.