Most of the ghetto tales from America’s Black neighbourhood are about young men doing their best to keep away from a life of crime, and failing. Charm City Kings is no exception. It soaks in the blood and sweat of Baltimore’s black community and doesn’t flinch away from the violence.
The central character is a 14-year-old boy named Mouse played with an effortless swell and surge of latent anger and simmering pride by Jahi Di'Allo Winston. This young Black actor is quite a find. Mouse becomes the fulcrum of the plot from where we see his world in all its glorious colours, mostly dark though always punctuated by bouts of laughter.
Mouse and his friends like to revv down the streets of Baltimore on fancy mo’bikes, The well packaged film chronicles Mouse’s adventures on wheels, his association with a life of crime through a mentor named Blax played by a fine actor named Meek Mill who sucks Mouse into a life of drugs. There is hope of redemption. This is a not film without the light at the end of the tunnel.
On the other end is Mouse’s other guardian angel, a cop (Will Catlett) who wants to keep Mouse off the streets. It’s all a familiar terrain: the bouts of brutality and the rugged rites of redemption in a community living on the fringes. Throw in a disapproving mother and a pretty supportive girlfriend, and we have a formula film that embraces conventions and deconstructs them through a process of cavalier meditation on crime and its curtailment.
The film is inspired by a documentary, 12’0 Clock Boys about the bikers of Baltimore. It is energetic and thoughtful and able to capture the young protagonist’s passage into a socially acceptable life.This is where it parts ways with real life where we all know happy endings are for mainstream people, not the fringe players.
I'll go with 3 stars.
Image source: IMDb
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