Does violence lead to rap, or does rap lead to gangs, guns, girlfriends on the side and eternal youth — the hard way? With all the undying hype surrounding the lives and deaths of Biggie and Tupac, the effects of this dueling discourse have to seep their way into cinema somehow.
Introducing Snipes: where Mafia, rap stars and hood rats butt their ugly heads in a regurgitation of cinematic violence that gives brutal birth to an unlikely, but likable, hero. Instead of cognicizing in high school, Erik (Sam Jones) snipes the city (it’s not as bad as it sounds), covering every free (and not so free) wall, pole and poster with posters of rap star Prolifik (Nelly). All is adequate, until Erik and his rapper-wannabe buddy sneak into Prolifik’s recording studio and inadvertently implicate themselves in someone else’s criminal business.
Not too bad for first-time writer (along with Rob Wiser), producer and director Rich Murray. No longer relegated to director’s first mate, or second, or second-second, Murray mixes it up and makes rap mad enough to kill with a cast capable of some pleasant surprises. Nelly not only provides his musical talents to the film’s sound track, but also proves himself acting-worthy as Prolifik. He has no trouble at all morphing from nouveau riche-brat-irritating to frightening, cold-blooded rapper-robber.
Through most of the film, a twisted, sympathetic composure lives on Jones’ face, nicely illustrating his perpetual struggle between reluctance and forced participation in the creation of Erik. But no matter how bad the crime scene gets, Erik isn’t too freaked and stressed to miss making a pass at a prime piece of ass. As Cheryl, Zoe Saldana has some tight pants to squeeze into, but she does her duty fine as the film’s token dime piece, savioress and damsel in distress all in one.
Sometimes freestylin’ illusions are so tough to kill, they can take you and your friends down with them. Snipes is what happens when you can’t take the hood out of the rat.
Anita Schmaltz writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.