Sign of the Times
It was just another day on the Brooklyn Street, people were going about their business whilst children played and then all hell broke out when gang banger Zooman went on a shooting spree. Randomly firing his victim is a little girl the daughter of Rachel (Cynthia Martells) and estranged husband Rueben (Louis Gossett Jr.). The killing brings Rueben home and feeling angered when none of his neighbours dare to step up and identify who they saw. It leads to trouble not only as their son Victor (Hill Harper) wants revenge and gets a gun but Rueben puts up a sign which accuses his neighbours of cowardice. It leads to resentment as the neighbours don't take kindly to what he is doing and brings more trouble for the family.
"Zooman" is both a fascinating movie but also hard work thanks to the storyline and also style. It is fascinating because of Ruben's actions and those of his neighbours who are more willing to go up against him than stand up and identify who the shooter was. It leads to many dramatic scenes and twists and turns as we witness what happens because of his actions.
Now this makes for a hard hitting drama and any movie which starts with a young girl dying on the street is going to grab your attention. But it is also hard work because its origins arise from a play by Charles Fuller and it makes a wordy affair. That is not the only issue as we also have Zooman who talks directly to the camera in an arrogant tone telling us his side of things. It means that despite various locations "Zooman" still ends up feeling like a play and unless you are in the mood for some thing which is about words and performance it is going to be a struggle.
But it certainly has a great cast to bring conviction to those words with Louis Gossett Jr., Charles S. Dutton, Hill Harper and Cynthia Martells all delivering powerful performances full of emotion. But in an unsettling way it is the performance of Khalil Kain as Zooman who grabs your attention as he comes across as arrogant and remorseless, basically evil with not an ounce of decency in him.
What this all boils down to is that I found "Zooman" hard going for both good and bad reasons but it is a powerful movie. It is also a movie which will appeal to those who are more use to the wordy feel of stage plays.