Customer Reviews for

Dead Presidents

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    "People out of work everywhere and the government just be throwing money away!"…

    The Hughes brothers certainly had the right idea in mind making this a cool heist, and I give them credit for trying, but they bite off more than they can chew. Dead Presidents is a really good film. Most people think this movie is all about robbing a bank but it really isn't even though it comes at the end. The most obvious problem is the film tries to be too many things at once. It starts as a ghetto drama-then it's a war movie-then it ends as a crime thriller! (More than a bit remiscent of Kubrick's "The Killing.") This could have worked with the proper care, but DP suffers from trying to cram too much story in just under two hours. An extra twenty minutes would properly flesh out the plot. The film opens in the late sixties as we meet Anthony (Larenz Tate), Anthony's girl Juanita (Rose Jackson), his friend Skip (Chris Tucker-as bug-eyed as ever) and boss Kirby (Keith David). We follow Anthony through his first experiences with sex, violence, and family resistance. Anthony wants to join the Marines and through a rather clever edit, we are plunged into the Vietnam War head first. The Hughes Bros. handle this material well, although it gets a bit busy with all the Vietnam-isms: drug use, severed heads, mercy killings, Agent Orange, air strikes, etc. The audience discovers that before the war Anthony got Juanita pregnant, and that he has a baby girl "back in the world." It is a lot of material to cover in the brief period of time, and we only get a brief glimpse of what is was like to be a black soldier in country. We jump back to the "world", where we witness the domestic turmoil the war has brought upon Anthony and Juanita. Another pitfall is the Juanita character, who is so abrasive that we feel no sympathy towards her. The scene where Anthony assaults her is problematic I mean what did she expect waging the verbal attack that she does on an alcoholic Vietnam Vet? The confrontation with Cutty (Clifton Powell), Juantia's sugar daddy, is contrived and goes on far too long. Broke and alone, Anthony, in his moral confusion, turns to the film's equivalent of the Black Panther Party for support... This is where ‘Dead Presidents’ abandons the drama for the above mentioned heist aspects. Ignoring the pragmatic problems with the robbery (i.e. face paint instead of masks), it is a rather poor way to resolve a film where so much time has been expended creating complex characters. One does not get the sense that Anthony is desperate enough to do something that goes so much against his character. The other members of the heist have not been properly set up to take part in it either. It seems tacked on, almost an afterthought to the plot proper. Anyway the heist does not go as planned everything leading to the final shot of ‘Dead Presidents’ seems anticlimactic, leaving many questions unanswered. One of the major flaws of the film is the lead performance by Larenz Tate he is a good actor, but does not seem dynamic enough to bring Anthony through a narrative arc that gets lost in the clouds. The editing leaves scenes unfinished and cold. The story: If the Hughes Bros. had focused on one or two aspects of the plot, we would have been presented with a more thoughtful and detailed story. I'll give them credit for being ambitious though, but experienced film makers also know what to cut from a film when everything seems like a good idea. But that is a skill that comes with time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    HOMAGE TO '70's BLAXPOP

    This is a fitting homage to 1970's blaxexploitation (blaxpop) genre and proof that the next generation can excel its forerunners. The Hughes Brothers are students of those times and their work here, from the location shots, to the riveting soundtrack, rings so true, you have to check your PDA to make sure its current day. Chris Tucker steals the film as Skippy, but Larenz Tate and Keith David get thir due with straight up, solid work.

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