|NEW JERSEY DRIVE (director/writer: Nick Gomez; screenwriter: Michael Marriott; cinematographer: Adam Kimmel; editor: Tracy Granger; music: Wendy Blackstone; cast: Saul Stein ( Lt. Emilr Roscoe), Koran C. Thomas (Ronnie), Sharron Corley (Jason Petty), Koran C Thomas (Ronnie Q), Gabriel Casseus (Midget), Arthur Nascarella (Chop-shop owner), Andre Moore (Ritchie), Donald Adeosun Faison (Tiny Dime), Devin Eggleston (Jamal), Samantha Brown (Jackie Petty), Gwen McGee (Rene Petty), Heavy D (B-Kane), Paulie Schulze (Booking Sgt.), Roscoe Orman (Judge); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Bob Gosse/Larry Meistrich; MCA Universal Home Video; 1995)|
but glum slice-of-life street drama."
by Dennis Schwartz
Nick Gomez ("Laws of
Gtavity"/"Ricochet") bases the story on an expose
of car thieves and corrupt cops in Newark penned
by Michael Marriott. This
hard-hitting but glum slice-of-life street drama is
about black teens stealing cars in Newark and chased
by mostly white police officers. The low-budget film
features gritty atmospheric street settings at teen
hangouts, loud police arrests and endless car chases,
along with jarring black jargon street talk. The
well-meaning pic is good in the action sequences but
lacks insight into what's in the hearts of the young
criminals, leaving us at a loss to understand what's
to be taken away from such a dispiriting tale we can
read about regularly in the newspapers.
focusing on black teen-ager Jason Petty (Sharron
Corley), living at home with his stable
working-class family, the story tells of street
culture in the Newark projects among black teens,
police relations in the 'hood,' the workings of the
criminal system and the aimless street life that leads
the featured subject to carjacking and a stretch in
prison that gives him a chance to reassess his wanton
hangs out with his teen friends who steal cars for joy
rides or sell them cheaply to venal chop-shop
owners. During a police sting, the cops do not follow
procedure in shooting one car thief (Koran C
Thomas) in an ambush while Jason flees. Though
warned by his concerned mom (Gwen McGee)
to stay away from the bad elements, Jason doesn't
listen and gravitates to the bad apple incorrigible
carjacker Midget (Gabriel Casseus).
Meanwhile corrupt Lt. Roscoe (Saul Stein) fears Jason
will rat him out to the grand jury hearing evidence on
the illegal police shooting at the sting operation and
hounds the kid not to testify. and beats him instead
of arresting him for stealing cars.
In the end, all we learn is that stealing cars is a dumb thing to do, and these car thieves might be kids but are still dangerous. The excuse given here for Jason is that he was just trying to make his mark in the world, which sounds as hollow as the picture.
REVIEWED ON 5/28/2017 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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