Elba Makes Directorial Debut with Coming-of-Age Drama
TROUBLE IN KINGSTON: Ami Ameen stars as Dennis “D” Campbell, who is out to avenge the murder of the older brother who raised him, in “Yardie,” the directorial debut of actor Idris Elba. (Photo courtesy of Rialto Pictures)
By Kam Williams
Dennis “D” Campbell (Aml Ameen) grew up in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica, in the seventies in a neighborhood infested with drugs. Orphaned at an early age, he was raised by an older brother he admired, Jerry (Everaldo Creary).
Besides serving as a surrogate father, Jerry was a peacemaker who risked his life pressuring the gangs ruining the community to end their bloody turf war. But Dennis was left traumatized at 13 when his sibling was shot and killed by Clancy (Raheem Edwards), a young member of the Tappa crew.
Fast forward some years later, and we find D doing the bidding of King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd), the leader of Spicer, Tappa’s rival gang. When he is asked to smuggle a kilo of cocaine on a plane bound for London, he leaps at the opportunity because not only does Clancy live there now, so does D’s daughter (Myla-Rae Hutchinson-Dunwell). So, the risky assignment will afford him an opportunity to avenge his brother’s murder while reuniting with loved ones.
That is the intriguing set up of Yardie, a coming-of-age drama marking the noteworthy directorial debut of Idris Elba. Adapted from Victor Headley’s 1992 novel of the same name, the film is narrated by its intrepid protagonist, a conflicted soul eternally torn between good and evil.
A gritty tale of survival slightly marred by a tendency to telegraph its punches.
Very Good (H H H). Unrated. Running time: 101 minutes. Production Companies: Warp Films/BFI Film Fund/Studio Canal. Distributor: Rialto Pictures.