hoodlumIn 1930s Harlem, gangster Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson (Laurence Fishburne) challenges the mighty Dutch Schultz (Tim Roth) over control of illegal gaming; the legendary Lucky Luciano (Andy Garcia) is drawn into the struggle. Director Bill Duke takes on a time-honored and thrilling genre, but comes up a little short. The montage sequences and intrigues between the hoodlums pump adrenaline into the picture, and Fishburne’s presence helps a lot, but the film is too long, uneven and ultimately familiar. Roth’s performance may be a bit over-the-top, but perhaps that’s what we need.

1997-U.S. 130 min. Color. Directed by Bill Duke. Cast: Laurence Fishburne (Ellsworth ”Bumpy” Johnson), Tim Roth (Dutch Schultz), Vanessa L. Williams (Francine Hughes), Andy Garcia (Lucky Luciano), Cicely Tyson, Chi McBride… Loretta Devine, Queen Latifah.

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