Set in Brooklyn, New York, the high quality crime drama Clockers is adapted from the 1992 novel of the same name by Richard Price and refers to drug dealers who solicit these illegal substances all day every day.
Price co-wrote the screenplay with director Spike Lee who also produced this memorable film and has a small acting role as Chucky.
The beginning sequence with bullet holes almost too hard to watch as the plot moves into detailed police procedures and the urban crime scene with talented performances from the cast on both sides.
Lee packs in foreshadowing and other signs as the visuals incorporate other media like a video game and billboard sign. Lee’s character placement during a set-up at a drug deal demonstrates great mastery as audience can’t help, but get emotionally involved in the narratives, which involved some key background information shown in flackbacks.
Ronald ‘Strike’ Dunham (Mekhi Phifer) learns the drug pusher trade from the towering Rodney Little (Delroy Lindo). Rodney spends a lot of time hanging out in the neighborhood from his hardware store so he can unscrupulously recruit young children. One look from Rodney says more than words ever could. He tasks Strike to murder another dealer, which puts Strike at a key crossroads where his decisions have dramatic and tragic consequences.
Iris Jeeter (Regina Taylor) also prominently factors into this community as she pushes back against the clockers. “You are selling your own people death,” she says. Her resistance reaches new heights when Strike begins to influence Iris’ intelligent son Tyrone ‘Shorty’ Jeeter (Pee Wee Love).
As if his chosen work was not dangerous enough, Strike also gets caught up in a murder investigation that involves his older brother Victor (Isaiah Washington) who resents the clockers make their money in sleazy ways while he works two jobs and still doesn’t make as much as they do.
Enter law enforcement officers Det. Rocco Klein (Harvey Keitel) and Det. Larry Mazilli (John Turturro). Rocco does not think Victor is involved in this murder. With Strike on edge, audiences still might question his morals even though they didn’t see him kill anyone at this point.
The convincing, strong André the Giant (Keith David) adds an unpredictable elements into the plot as he menaces and tests the other characters. “Don’t you want to go some place you’ve never been before? I mean, you love trains, but you’ve only ridden the subway,” he says in another foreshadowing moment.
Other supporting characters include Errol (Thomas Jefferson Byrd) and Scientific (Sticky Fingaz). The soundtrack features songs from Seal, Chaka Khan, Des’ree, Brooklynites, and Marc Dorsey while frequent Lee collaborator Terence Blanchard composes the quality musical score. The music adds authenticity while enhancing the actions within the plot.
Clockers comes recommended (*** out of four stars) and is rated R for strong graphic violence, strong language and drug content. Lee moved into this film after Martin Scorcese left to make Casino, which is why Scorcese still gets producer credit here.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler