Sunday, January 14, 2007

Movie Review: Gridlock’d 3 ½ Stars

An odd little movie about two junkie jazz musicians, Spoon (Tupac Shakur) and Stretch (Tim Roth), who decide to kick the habit after their mutual girlfriend and bandmate, Cookie (Thandie Newton) OD’s the night before New Years Eve.

Caught in a lunatic bureaucratic shuffle, they bounce from social services office to social services office trying to get into detox. Between rehab centers and Medicaid offices, Spoon and Stretch attempt to score enough to sate them for the day and unwittingly become entangled in their friends’ murder. Sought by both the police and a ruthless gangster, Spoon and Stretch eventually go to drastic measures to get off the streets and into the sanctuary of rehab.

Gridlock’d is a strange mix of blaxploitation action flick, serious social commentary and dark, dark comedy bouyed by strong performances from the wonderfully quirky Tim Roth and the surprisingly sympathetic Tupac Shakur. Character actor Vondie Cutis-Hall (who portrays gangster D-Reper) directs with an even hand. Scenes seemingly drift effortlessly from dramatic drug haze to funky chase sequence to slapstick comedy.

Strangely, and perhaps appropriately, Gridlock’d is set in the heart of Middle America, in the urban decay of Toledo, Ohio. This provides an unromantic and unflattering portrayal of the real thug life far removed from LA, New York and Metropolis. The soundtrack reflects this, boasting acid jazz and hip hop cuts as well as a terrific score from Stewart Copeland with additional music from LA DJ-ess The Angel.

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