Cast: Laurence Fishburne, Tim Roth, Andy Garcia, Vanessa L. Williams, Chi McBride, Clarence Williams III, Cicely Tyson, William Atherton, Loretta Devine Director: Bill Duke Screenplay: Chris Brancato
In the streets of Harlem 1930's, bullets fly and body counts rise as gang war erupts between the mad and the black. The war is between the ruthlessly insane Dutch Schultz (Tim Roth) who is invading the turf of Madam Queen (Cicely Tyson). This is the era of the great depression and illegal gambling "numbers" (equivalent to today's lotto) is a lucrative source of income for the mob and a source of employment and diversion for the poor. Queen is losing the war to Dutch before Bumpy' Johnson (Laurence Fishburne) arrives on the scene and takes the war to a higher level of intensity.
The sets are wonderfully designed, as are the costumes, but this does not compensate for my intense dislike of gangster movies. Especially when the endings are always so predictable somebody has to die, if not everybody. I find Laurence Fishburne an intensely stoic actor whose movements on screen seem excessively deliberate. Nevertheless, it works to his advantage in this movie and also in the awful EVENT HORIZON, where little emotion is required. Tim Roth on the other hand excels as the mad Dutch Man and seems much more at ease with his role. Vanessa Williams graces the screen with her pretty face, but her character Fracine succumbs too easily to the brute charms of Bumpy Johnson. Andy Garcia also has a supporting role as Lucky Luciano, the Godfather who tries to resolve the conflict between the two groups.
There is nothing new in HOODLUM that has not been done, said and re-said in the countless gangster films made prior to this. Most of which have a higher quality of direction and acting i.e. THE GODFATHER series, GOOD FELLAS etc. So unless you have spare cash on hand and spare time to squander, HOODLUM can be left for a late night showing on television or an afternoon matinee.