• James Rutherford

'Clockers': An Urgent and Dynamic Tale of Urban Warfare from Spike Lee and Richard Price


Movie poster for the film Clockers starring Mekhi Phifer and Harvey Keitel

"Clockers" is an urgent and compelling urban drama starring Mekhi Phifer as Ronald "Strike" Dunham, a Brooklyn-based drug dealer ("clocker") who operates at the behest of local drug lord Rodney Little (Delroy Lindo). When Strike's fellow dealer Darryl Adams (Steve White) is gunned down, detectives Rocco Klein (Harvey Keitel) and Larry Mazilli (John Turturro) set their sights on Strike as their prime suspect.


Rodney is incensed upon learning that Darryl is stealing from him and orders Strike to eliminate his wayward counterpart—yet it is Strike's older brother Victor (Isaiah Washington) who confesses to the crime. Klein and Mazilli recognize Victor as a well-meaning family man and suspect that he is covering for his younger brother, and continue to pressure Strike into revealing the truth. Their incursion fosters deep suspicion amidst Strike's crew—quickly finding him labeled a snitch and launching him on a frantic course of evasion and desperation.


Adapted by Richard Price from his acclaimed source novel and directed by Spike Lee ("Do the Right Thing", "25th Hour"), "Clockers" is a thrilling and impactful crime drama, made all the more palpable by virtue of Lee's masterful story-telling and Price's razor-sharp writing. Phifer is wholly credible in his cinematic debut, as a heedless young man trapped between opposing forces and contradictory commitments, ultimately forced to face his own personal reckoning. A dire tale of provocation and survival, it's a standout urban epic courtesy of world class storytellers at the top of their respective games.

 

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