New Jack City

Photos from New Jack City – Mario Van Peebles, 1991. Should I even call this one a guilty pleasure? I love this movie outright, no equivocations. It’s all archetypes played perfectly to the letter. The bad boy cops forced to work together in Ice T and Judd Nelson. The superior officer willing to take a chance on the hotheaded cops in the name of results (played by Mario Van Peebles…an archetype recycled in far better form in another little work that deals with drugs and cops, you might have heard of it). The crackhead who cleans up his act only to tragically relapse, played convincingly, frighteningly, and often hilariously by Chris Rock. And, of course, the ultimate villain, the irredeemable, greedy, lustful demon Nino Brown, played by Wesley Snipes. Throw all these pieces into a fairly by the numbers drug drama (spiced up by several revenge subplots) and you might imagine the result to be uninspired viewing. It most certainly is not. Though a bit more stylized than some similar films of the era (Juice and Deep Cover spring to mind), New Jack delivers constant entertainment, even if it does get a bit polemical at times. Worth the ride for some classic lines and setpieces, and the Scarface story retold wonderfully through an inspired Snipes performance.

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