This incredibly-shot, evocative gangster flick about post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans has a whole lot to say. It’s violent, hugely entertaining, but it has trouble displaying the meaning and pain of P.G. Cuchieri’s script over the gunfire.
RZA, of Wu-Tang Clan fame, really comes into his own with his third film as a director, and this is by far his most commercial effort. But he has a few lessons to learn in subtlety, ones he could be taught easily by the commendable, veteran actors on display here.
While the four men the film centres around — who go into business with crime kingpin Cousin to rob a casino — are supposed to be the ones we root for, the performances from our central characters make that difficult.
They are consistently being outmatched onscreen by the formidable, giant actors aorund them. While Shameik Moore, known for being the voice of Miles Morales in Into The Spider-Verse, is definitely the strongest, is expected better from the other three.
Among them is Demetrius Shipp Jr., who played Tupac just three years ago, Denzel Whitaker – no relation to the Oscar-winner – and Keean Johnson, star of HBO’s Euphoria and the weak point here.
It’s incredible that those around them elevate the film, even when the shortcomings of these young actors – who still have potential – threaten to envelope everything. T.I. is downright terrifying as the brutal Lorenzo ‘Cousin’ Bass, and with Wesley Snipes, Ethan Hawke and Terrence Howard chewing the scenery in their smaller roles, they make it all worthwhile.
Huge kudos goes to Elza Gonzalez, who plays an agent on the tail of the foursome, as she’s the most grounded in the entire picture.
It’s a beautiful script weighed down by some difficult performances, but nonetheless, Cut Throat City is a film that will demand your attention from the get-go, and not let go.