This slice of wrong-side-of-the-tracks New York teenage life has a sympathetic heart, but lacks the passion and originality to convince. It centres on crew member Marcus (Sexton), a spotty, asthmatic, vulnerable 15-year-old being raised by his grandmother in the absence of his father, and with his mother in jail (for helping Mexicans hop the border). It's a story of breaking away, with Marcus making his first (sweetly outlined) romantic forays with pretty young Latino Melena (Vega), running in with her dad and being hauled up by the cops for thieving. Writer/director Freeman is initially at pains to restrain the usual hyperrealist clichés, patching out the boy's existence in desultory, almost inconsequential scenes of street life, hanging out in the 'club house', fencing stolen goods by the school gates. Here the movie seems most at ease, but as it gears up with gunplay episodes and an all too familiar heist, the uncertainties - inappropriateness, rather - of tone, and the shortcomings of the acting and directing become more evident.
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