There's a clever idea behind this film, an urban musical that uses rap songs to convey the energy and passion of its characters. It's fascinating, but not very accessible. And the plot is a bit contrived.
Flash (Duffus) is just out of prison and he's already in trouble. He owes a huge amount of money to his old boss Angel (Watson), also just out of prison.
And Flash's three babymothers (Justice, Lady L and Holness) are after him as well. Not to mention his mother (Chambers) and grandmother (Ffrench), who want him to leave his life of crime. But he needs to find this cash before he can go straight. And Angel only gives him two hours to come up with it.
Filmmaker Woolcock packs rather too much of an odyssey into these two hours; the events feel more like two days worth of meetings, dealings and scams, especially when Flash takes rather a lot of time out to mourn the death of a fallen comrade. He also meets a street urchin (Whyte), crosses into rival gang territory with a guy named Evil (Duncan), is offered refuge in a church by a pastor (Webley), has various encounters with the women in his life and sets up a blackmail sting.
Frankly, there isn't much in this narrative that's very believable. But it's a fantasy, not a gritty look at life on the streets. And there are interesting things swirling around, from introspective moments to more general observations about how this violent subculture infuses all of society. Yet while the great-looking actors are full of personality, it's not easy to keep track of who's whom, mainly because the film lacks a strong central perspective. It's also choppily edited and has some bad lapses of continuity.
But Woolcock definitely taps into something urgent, ingeniously using hip-hop and violence to propel the story while vividly portraying the macho gang culture in which everyone knows his place and kids learn very fast. The strong presence of the church in the life of these people is also striking, as it's something we rarely see on screen. And if the preachy yet grim message feels a little forced, at least the film takes us somewhere we've never been.