Review: Chi-Raq

Title: Chi-Raq
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris, Wesley Snipes
Runtime: 2 hrs 7 mins

What It Is: When the violence between two street gangs the Trojans and the Spartans has reached a fever pitch. Leaders from both gangs Chi-Raq (Cannon) from the Spartans and Cyclops (Snipes) from the Trojans have been at war for quite some time. Many many innocent people including children have gotten caught in the crossfire…literally. Tired of the violence Chi-Raq’s main squeeze Lysistrata (Parris) sets up a sex strike in order to throw off the mechanism they believe these men use to make all of their decisions. In this modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes.

What We Think: What in the blue hell is this movie? From its narrative construct, that revolves around an almost poetic delivery this film struggles. It tries really hard to drive home its point. It does so to a degree so aggressive it starts to hurt the film’s core. Being that its basis is in ancient Greek tragedies, we, of course, have someone telling us a story and in this case, and here it is Dolmedes (Samuel L. Jackson). He breaks the fourth wall  to give us bits of the story we may not get from the script itself.

Our Grade: C, There’s a lot that this could have done but sadly Spike Lee fumbles the satirical nature of this, badly. It beats you to death with its message and perhaps a bit of subtlety wouldn’t kill Spike every now and then. Calm down buddy we get it. Chicago is violent, yes. Nick Cannon as a gang member is not believable at all. John Cusack was given a great spot and Jennifer Hudson made the most of her limited screen time. I’ll suggest you see the film if you want to bare witness to a black lives matter starter kit.

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