By Christopher Null
After the first 2 minutes of Clockers, during which a parade of bloody crime scene photos are splashed on the screen, you'll be ready to put down your popcorn. After the first 15 minutes, you'll be bored enough to go buy some more.
You can't imagine how sick and tired I was of hearing the hype surrounding Clockers, Spike Lee's latest film about (surprise!) African-Americans in Brooklyn who get into trouble with drugs, murder, and betrayal. Every other critic on the planet will probably say they love Clockers so as not to appear uncool. I'll give it to you straight.
By and large, Lee has forgone the traditional concepts of moviemaking (to tell a cohesive, interesting, entertaining story) in favor of playing a lot of bad music, giving us some incomprehensible and overlapping dialogue, photographing some meaningless low-light images, and other sundry nonsense. A plot does exist: Strike (Mekhi Phifer) is a clocker (a drug dealer), and his boss (Delroy Lindo, a shameless Samuel L. Jackson wannabe) sends Strike to kill the local fast food franchise's night manager. After all, who wouldn't? The cops (Harvey Keitel and John Turturro) close in, and everything comes crashing down.
To be honest, it never goes up high enough to crash, per se. The film just wallows in its hipper-than-thou attitude and never becomes engaging in the least. Characters come and go with no motivation, spouting their lines as if...Spike Lee had written them for the actors. No one is likable at all. Lee's ultra-stylish use of a constantly moving camera gets old in about 5 minutes, annoying in 10. And the film just drones on and on...for 132 very unnecessary minutes.
While Clockers has its moments, they are few and far between. By the time the film starts to show some promise (about 90 minutes in), it's much too late to save it. Overall this is the perfect example of how not to make a movie about the mean streets, coming off more like a gory Movie of the Week than a feature film.
The bottom line for this movie about drugs? Just say no.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Wednesday 13th September 1995
Box Office Worldwide: $13.1M
Distributed by: MCA Universal Home Video
Production compaines: Universal Pictures
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Fresh: 33 Rotten: 16
Cast & Crew
Starring: Harvey Keitel as Det. Rocco Klein, John Turturro as Det. Larry Mazilli, Delroy Lindo as Rodney Little, Mekhi Phifer as Ronald 'Strike' Dunham, Isaiah Washington as Victor Dunham, Keith David as André the Giant, Peewee Love as Tyrone 'Shorty' Jeeter, Regina Taylor as Iris Jeeter, Thomas Jefferson Byrd as Errol Barnes, Kirk Jones as Scientific, Fredro Starr as Go