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Bullet Boy Review

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Fresh out of prison, Ricky (Walters) wants to go straight but finds himself at the centre of an ever-intensifying cycle of violence. As gun crime spreads on London's streets, his innocent younger brother (Luke Fraser) becomes involved.

★★★★★

Bullet Boy could be accused of trying to punch above its weight. Comparisons to Boyz N The Hood and Menace II Society are inevitable, although the film's modest budget and retread of similar themes may stop it winning the same acclaim. The locations may change, critics will argue, but the story remains the same.

That's true up to a point. Like its US predecessors, Bullet Boy focuses on an essentially good young man trapped by his 'ghetto' upbringing - here, the mean streets of Hackney - hindered by a loose-cannon best friend and overtaken by vicious eye-for-an-eye revenge attacks.

So yes, we've seen these elements before. But this is its own movie. Director Saul Dibb emphasises the contrasts in British society that make these problems distinctively here and now. He cuts between shots of cash-rich Docklands and burnt-out cars on wastegrounds, while showing how the well-meaning influence of religion is powerless against the soul-destroying influence of (imported) drugs, guns and gang mentality.

Dibb should in particular be praised for his choice of lead - Ashley Walters, better known as Asher D, formerly of So Solid Crew. As a young father who himself has spent time in jail, Walters brings both truth and confidence to the role.

Clichés as big as Canary Wharf lurk on the horizon, but it's about time urban Britain confronted these issues with its own cinematic voice.

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