Yardie
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Yardie

The British gangster thriller is, by now, a subgenre with mostly fixed conventions of storytelling, style and sound, all of which tend towards dim-lit scuzziness — so credit to Idris Elba for giving it a welcome shot of color, in more ways than one, in “Yardie.” Based on Victor Headley’s vastly popular, boundary-breaking 1992 crime novel, Elba’s feature-length directorial debut is liberally strewn with Jamaica’s vibrant patois, palette and reggae-ruled playlist, spiking its portrait of warring underworld expats in London’s East End with some necessary spiced rum. Those distinctive cultural accents, however, aren’t quite enough to electrify the film’s familiar good-lad-gone-bad narrative, which is somewhat hampered by thin characterization and cluttered plotting.

With its bright, inviting visuals and well-knitted ensemble of actors — often doing more than the script strictly demands of them — “Yardie” is a convincing enough calling card for Elba’s helming skills, already honed on a couple of teleplays and music videos; it’s not hard to see him steering a higher-budget genre piece in this vein. But as creditably as the star acquits himself behind the camera, even a small shot of his onscreen presence would have considerably amped up proceedings — not to mention the film’s muted international prospects. In Britain, it’ll be a test of how much Headley’s book has remained in the public imagination over the last quarter-century. A phenomenon on publication, “Yardie” was hailed as Britain’s first populist novel for a black audience, distributed outside the traditional publishing channels; the film, in turn, is likeliest to find its audience in non-theatrical avenues.

Duration: 101 min

Release:

IMDb: 6.2

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Yardie
Yardie