cut throat city
director: rza (the man with the iron fists)
starring: shameik moore, eiza gonzalez, wesley snipes and ethan hawke
REVIEWER: lyall carter
When Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans, four desperate friends band together to pull off a daring heist in the heart of the city.
Cut Throat City kinda crept up on me and took me by surprise. Since Covid had cancelled a lot of media screenings, I almost forgot that this particular one was happening. Not only that, I hadn’t got around to watching the trailer either. So I went into the film with very little expectations of the film. Although Cut Throat City explores some poignant and timely themes with some great performances, its narrative structure wobbles sometimes.
Four boyhood friends from the New Orleans’ Ninth Ward return home following the destructive Hurricane Katrina. With no help from FEMA, no jobs, and nothing to lose, they reluctantly seek help from a local gangster who convinces them to pull off a dangerous heist in a bid to turn their situations around. When the job goes wrong, they find themselves mixed up in a political minefield, being chased by local detectives, the district’s Counsellor and an extremely angry warlord.
The first two acts of Cut Throat City generally work well. The effects of Hurricane Katrina on four friends in the Ninth Ward and the lengths to which they have to go to survive are all completely believable and compelling.
In the final act one of the characters, with his hands clearly raised, gets shot multiple times by police. Other characters in the film who had only been shot a couple of times die but this character survives. From the construction of that scene it appears that RZA is pushing a particular anti-police agenda.
That’s totally fine and is not only his prerogative but a conversation that is needed in light of recent events in the USA, but he does it at the expense of a conclusion that makes logical sense. It had me struggling to try and figure out what was going on so much so that the weight of the film's impact was a little lost on me.
The ensemble cast all bring the goods with Eiza Gonzalez giving her best performance to date as Detective Lucinda Valencia. Hollywood directors take note: write Gonzalez bigger parts and she will more than shine.
Although Cut Throat City asks poignant and timely questions with a winning turn from Gonzalez, the execution of its third act will leave you a little confused.