RZA’s Post-Katrina crime drama delivers on a timely basis.
“Cut Throat City,” directed by RZA, is a post-Katrina crime drama that has been theatrically playing in select cities for the past few weeks. I’ve finally managed to review it, and I feel that it has a certain “Hell or High Water” vibe. Both these movies are about thieves with hardships in their lives, and the authorities out to take them down. And they’re both about characters and their environments.
And you could also say it has a “Menace II Society” passion with its African-American poetry, violence, and themes. I can’t give “Cut Throat City” a full 4-star rating, because of how the narrative isn’t always understandable, but I can praise it for its inspiration and poetry.
We meet four best friends living in the ghettos of New Orleans, and struggling to make ends meet after Hurricane Katrina attacked the city, and left them jobless. Blink (Shameik Moore) is a graphic novel artist, who’s looking to provide for his family; Miracle (Demetrius Shipp, Jr.-Tupac from “All Eyez On Me”) is a drug dealer, who just walked down the aisle; Junior (Keean Johnson) cares about his attack dog; and Andre (Denzel Whitaker) aspires to become the next Miles Davis.
Opportunity rings when a local gangster by the name of “Cousin” Bass (Tip “T.I.” Harris) offers them a job in pulling off a casino heist. Unfortunately, it results in the death of one of them, and take $5,000 of the money to pay for his funeral, which peeves off Cousin. This gangster (with vitiligo patches on his face) doesn’t tolerate screw-ups, and has his savage raccoon pulverize his victim’s appendages.
After they disagree with the gangster, the boys take up casino robberies on their own terms. It’s not about Cousin, it’s about their lives.
The supporting cast also features Eiza Gonzalez as a young detective on the boys’ trail, Wesley Snipes as Blink’s estranged father, Kat Graham as Blink’s wife, Rob Morgan as a dirty cop, Terence Howard as a religious gangland boss, and Ethan Hawke as a city councilman and ex-dirty cop.
“Cut Throat City” may not be as electrifying or original as “Hell or High Water” or “Menace II Society,” but RZA and writer P.G. Cuscheri (in his first feature) both allow the actors to provide excellent performances and they also place the film on a timely basis. You have to admire how Moore, Shipp, Jr. Gonzalez, Snipes, Harris, Morgan, Howard, and Hawke provide personalities and ambitions in their characters.
The movie is also about consequences in one’s actions, which in those case are the casino robberies, and how the main boys struggle for survival. Even if they do kill some people, they aren’t monsters. They just found themselves on the wrong side of the tracks.
We basically know the outcome of these types of crime dramas, but why do we still see them? Because we want to see the different stories and environments the characters reside in. RZA delivers the goods with “Cut Throat City” on that notion.