After the dismally miscalculated School Daze, Spike Lee returns to splendid form with a pacy, punchy ensemble piece set in Brooklyn during one stiflingly hot 24 hours. Lee himself plays Mookie, pizza delivery-man for Sal (Aiello) and his two sons; though selfishly neglectful of his Hispanic lover and child, Mookie is mostly Mr Nice Guy, ever ready to lend his calming influence to the storm of insults that fly between the local blacks, Italians, Koreans and white cops. Eventually, however, the heat takes its toll, and petty disagreements escalate into a full-scale riot. Effortlessly moving from comedy to serious social comment, eliciting excellent performances from a large and perfectly selected cast, and making superb use of music both to create mood and comment on the action, Lee contrives to see both sides of each conflict without falling prey to simplistic sentimentality. Best of all, the film -- at once stylised and realistic - buzzes throughout with the sheer, edgy bravado that comes from living one's life on the streets. It looks, sounds, and feels right: sure proof that Lee's virtuoso technique and righteous anger are tempered by real humanity.
Cast and crew
Samuel L Jackson