Elba makes directorial debut with gritty coming-of-age drama

MSR News Online/MSR News Online

Dennis “D” Campbell (Aml Ameen) had the misfortune of growing up in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica in the ’70s at a time when the ‘hood was infested with drugs. Orphaned at an early age, he was raised by an older brother he admired, Jerry (Everaldo Creary).

Besides serving as a surrogate father, Jerry was a peacemaker who risked his life pressuring the gangs ruining the community to end their bloody turf war. But Dennis was left traumatized at 13 when his sibling was senselessly shot dead by Clancy (Raheem Edwards), a young member of the Tappa crew.

Fast forward a half-dozen years and we find Dennis doing the bidding of King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd), the leader of Spicer, Tappa’s rival gang. When he is asked to smuggle a kilo of cocaine on a plane bound for London, he leaps at the opportunity because not only does Clancy live there now, but so too does Dennis’ daughter (Myla-Rae Hutchinson-Dunwell).

So, the risky assignment will afford him an opportunity to avenge his brother’s murder while reuniting with loved ones.

Though slightly marred by a tendency to telegraph its punches, the coming-of-age drama marks Elba’s noteworthy directorial debut. Adapted from Victor Headley’s 1992 novel of the same name, the intriguing set up is narrated by its intrepid protagonist, a conflicted soul eternally torn between good and evil.

Very Good (3 stars)

Unrated

Running time: 101 minutes

Production Companies: Warp Films / BFI Film Fund / Studio Canal

Distributor: Rialto Pictures

Yardie opened nationwide March 15 and is currently playing at AMC Southdale 16 and Emagine Willow Creek (as we go to press). Check local listings for show times. For more info, visit warpfilms.com/feature/yardie.