It’s been a banner year for bush-league Scorseses, for better (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints) and worse (next week’s Harsh Times). This no-budget eyesore from Jamaica, however, takes the prize: Imagine Mean Streets helmed by a video-game-addled 13-year-old pothead. Pulled from direct-to-DVD purgatory by Sony, Shottas (island slang for “gangsters”) takes an arcless meander through the lives of a pair of Kingston criminals (Benz and Marley, a son of Bob) who start young by robbing a soda-pop deliveryman; move on to extortion, murder and “all kinds of fuckery”; and eventually wage a turf war against a Miami drug bigwig (Rankin). Wyclef turns up as much-needed comic relief, and before the movie’s over, even the most disengaged viewer will be well on the way to a degree in squib mechanics.
Shottas is actually refreshingly crude until it runs aground on its own bullshit machismo. Ultimately, the crackling patois dialogue, endearingly hasty point-and-shoot setups and sublimely awful performances (note to director Silvera: Ganja and Method acting don’t mix) serve only a ridiculous infatuation with bling, “respeck” and consequence-free cartoon violence, every bit of it fueled by disdain for women. The template, then, is more Scarface than Scorsese, so blame Brian De Palma. (Opens Fri; click here for venues.)— Mark Holcomb