Cut Throat City Review – Real, Authentic, Raw Truth

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Cut Throat City, from Well Go USA Entertainment, brings to the screen an authentic and real film of life after Katrina, of limited options, of FEMA's failures, of the abandonment of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward.

Directed by RZA, Cut Throat City stars, Terrence Howard, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes, T.I., Shameik Moore, Keenan Johnson, Demetrius Shipp, Jr., Isaiah Washington, Denzel Whitaker, Rob Morgan, Eiza Gonzalez, Kat Graham, , Joel David Moore, Andrene Ward-Hammond, and Dominique DuVernay.


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The film opens with animation of a gang of four homeboys taking on the real, symbolic, and imagined enemies. As the animation fades, the four Blink, played by Shameik Moore, Junior played by Keenan Johnson, Miracle, played by Demetrius Shipp, Jr., and Andre, played by Denzel Whitaker are partying in a send off as Blink is getting married.

Friends since grade school the four have experienced the sting when natural selection passed them by, as the lower ninth doesn't have room for dreamers, even as the four hold on to hope, what came next couldn't have ever been imagined.

Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward with a wall of water that decimated the city. The immediate aftermath shocked the world and ushered in a new world order for residents who stayed.

Post Katrina our four friends are older, and Blink and his wife, Yolanda, played by Dominique DuVernay, now have a child. They didn't qualify for FEMA, the bills are past due, jobs are scarce and there are few options. Our four are each trying to find the bridge from the Lower Ninth Ward to living. Between slinging dope, playing Jazz on the corner, or creating art, none of the four can survive.


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The brick walls of suppression are more difficult to handle with adult eyes, so our four make a fateful decision to speak with the local crime boss, Cousin Bass, played by T.I., and asked for work. Neophytes to organized crime, the four follow his instructions and hit the local casino.

Of course, the entire operation goes south as they were set up which is when we meet the real power in the streets of New Orleans Jackson Symms, played by Ethan Hawke, Courtney, played by Rob Morgan, and The Saint, played by Terrence Howard.

Investigating the casino robbery fell on Lucinda Valencia, played by Eliza Gonzalez. As a good cop, she is up against a wall of corruption and barely able to follow through before she is met with more internal firewalls.

Councilman Symms, also frustrated with the government's response in the aftermath of Katrina, was once a local detective who forged alliances on both sides of the law. His call to Valencia put her on the trail and his call to Courtney ushers in a acceptable end.

When they need a place to hide Blink returns to the father, played by Wesley Snipes, that he never knew.


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What we discover along the way is Katrina birthed a war for the streets of the city. Petty street crime and the dark underbelly of criminal enterprise and in the jungle Darwinism still rules.

RZA builds Cut Throat City into a riveting story with the same skill and honesty as the late John Singleton.

Weaving together an authentic and straightforward narrative from the point of view of four brothers, each trying to live their reality, only to be hit with continual rejection, discrimination, suppression, simply because of race and zip code. Cut Throat City blends in themes of choices, redemption, penalties, and possibilities, even when faced with little or no hope.


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Gripping, raw, real and attention-grabbing, Cut Throat City opens in theaters August 21, 2020. Check local listings.

 

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