Cast: Shameik Moore, Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris, Demetrius Shipp Jr.
Release Date: October 20, 2020
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
From director RZA comes the explosive CUT THROAT CITY, the story of four boyhood friends from New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward who return after Hurricane Katrina to decimated homes, no jobs, and no help from FEMA. Out of options, they reluctantly turn to a local gangster, who offers them one shot at turning their situations around—by pulling off a dangerous heist in the heart of the city. When the job goes bad, the friends find themselves on the run, hunted by two relentless detectives and a neighborhood warlord who thinks they stole the heist money.
‘Cut Throat City’ tells the story of four longtime friends from New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward who are struggling after the devastating effects of Katrina. Desperate to find a way to stay afloat, the group seeks out a local neighborhood warlord who grants them a chance to prove themselves by undertaking a dangerous heist. With no other viable options, the friends accept but when elements out of their control cause things to go terribly wrong, they quickly end up in a worse situation than before, still broke and now with a dangerous criminal convinced they stole from him. Forced to take more drastic steps to balance everything out while still desperate to find a way to earn some cash, these friends quickly end up on a deadly course populated by increasingly dangerous individuals and their options dwindling.
Directed by The RZA (The Man with the Iron Fists, Love Beats Rhymes) from a screenplay written by Paul Cuschieri (TV’s The Undercovers), RZA does a highly competent job at the helm of ‘Cut Throat City’ and continues to show some real growth as a filmmaker, guiding along the tale with style and care every step of the way. The film also benefits a great deal from a well selected cast that features a number of talented individuals and includes Shameik Moore (Dope), Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris (TV’s House of Lies), Demetrius Shipp Jr. (All Eyez on Me), Kat Graham (TV’s The Vampire Diaries), Rob Morgan (TV’s Stranger Things), Keean Johnson (Midway), Denzel Whitaker (Black Panther), Joel David Moore (Hatchet), Sam Daly (TV’s Hunters), Isaiah Washington (TV’s P-Valley), Wesley Snipes (Demolition Man), Terrence Howard (TV’s Empire), Eiza González (Baby Driver) and Ethan Hawke (Training Day) along with more, nearly all providing quite capable performances for the most part in their respective roles.
‘Cut Throat City’ is a solid film in most respects that explores a group of childhood friends now well into adulthood who regardless of their intentions get caught up in the depths of the local criminal underworld following the aftermath of Katrina and the lack of assistance provided to them in the Lower Ninth Ward, resulting in desperate actions being necessary merely to survive. After seeking out a relationship with a local warlord and a few unfortunate mishaps largely out of their control, these friends quickly find their desperation escalating when they are forced to tackle the repercussions of a robbery gone wrong while still unable to find financial support to get out of the ever increasing holes they find themselves sinking into. It’s a powerful film with a surprising amount of emotional depth within, although a curious conclusion that’s a little too smart or not quite blatant enough for many will probably rub a lot of folks the wrong way. Fortunately an engaging story with relatable and well portrayed characters and an honest and heartfelt approach to the material allows the positives here to stand out far more than the potential negatives. If you can just let yourself be taken along for the tense ride you’ll probably find quite a bit to appreciate within, particularly the noteworthy cast which really helps this incredibly human story to work as well as it does.
Overall, ‘Cut Throat City’ is an entertaining, moving and occasionally tense look at four childhood friends forced to turn to crime in order to survive in the aftermath of Katrina and the lack of assistance provided to their lower income community to rebuild. Guided along with care by RZA and complimented by a great cast that doesn’t disappoint, the film has a few issues but is still well worth taking the time to check out. ‘Cut Throat City’ is recommended, especially for anyone who is a fan of RZA and his previous directorial efforts and/or of any of the key cast members, as well as anyone intrigued by the trailer or premise. It may have a few hiccups, but it’s a solid film overall and should at least be worth a couple hours of your time and the price of a rental.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Cut Throat City’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks great as a whole and delivers a clean, smooth and nicely detailed presentation from start to finish with no notable issues or problems to be uncovered along the way. It holds up smoothly even during the few darkly lit and fast moving sequences, never resulting in anything occurring onscreen becoming negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation that shouldn’t have any trouble pleasing fans and first time viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack offers a clean, clear and occasionally aggressive audio presentation throughout that never falters or disappoints. It consistently takes advantage of all five available channels whenever it’s appropriate in order to send music, gunshots and nature elements along with more throughout the various speakers, while never conflicting with any dialogue or other audio elements that may be occurring simultaneously. Overall, this is a great 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that sounds crisp and sharp every step of the way while also contributing some extra tension and fun to the viewing experience.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Cut Throat City’ features a few brief extras that fans of the film may enjoy. Included on the release is a collection of ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 10 minutes in length altogether), along with ‘Cut Throat City: Behind the Scenes’ (running approximately 9 minutes). The film’s ‘Teaser’ (approximately 90 seconds) and ‘Theatrical Trailer’ (2 minutes) are also included.