Mixed or average reviews - based on 17 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 11 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 17
  2. Negative: 3 out of 17
  1. Duke is a superb director of actors, and, as in "Deep Cover", Fishburne manages to suggest a lot with a deft economy of means.
  2. 75
    While Chris Brancato's script doesn't reveal anything new or surprising (students of history and fans of "The Cotton Club" already know how this film ends), it's a competent piece of storytelling that incorporates elements of human interest with the threat of escalating violence.
  3. It is familiarly old-fashioned, complete with montages of newspaper clippings fluttering past and calendar days slipping by. The sets, costumes, old cars and general atmosphere all beautifully recall moviemaking of a bygone era. And for that, hats off to Duke.
  4. Duke rarely operates at more than a TV movie-of-the-week level of originality, but Hoodlum is still an easy movie to enjoy.
  5. Laurence Fishburne and Tim Roth play the main characters with conviction, but Bill Duke's punchy filmmaking style banishes any hope of storytelling subtlety or psychological nuance.
  6. Reviewed by: Sandra Contreras
    Uneven and inaccurate as it may be, it's hard to wash out entirely with a movie that explores as neglected an aspect of classic gangster mythology as this one; at the same time, you can't help but wish it did so more successfully.
  7. 10
    A conclusion featuring a dizzying string of betrayals that leads to a confusing anti-climax robs the film of even cheap action thrills, making Hoodlum an almost thoroughly forgettable experience, albeit probably the only film in history to unite Queen Latifah and The Mod Squad's Clarence Williams III.

See all 17 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 1 out of 3
  1. RobD.
    Sep 3, 2006
    I too am a mafia buff who has long been waiting for a movie about Dutch Schultz (let's just forget about Billy Bathgate). Dutch is portrayed by Tim Roth, who expertly shows the character's merciless cruelty and disregard for pretty much everbody. However, this is a much better movie than Jesse B. tells you. It is a well-crafted character study showing the slow corruption of Laurence Fishbourne's character. The sets in the movie are probably the most acurate representation of Harlem ever in a movie. While it does take some liberties with historical accuracy, the point of a movie is to entertain, and this film delivers. Collapse
  2. Feb 25, 2013
    People who have seen American Gangster or are regular viewers of the TV show, Mobsters, will know who Bumpy Johnson was and know the story behind Hoodlum. For those of you who don't, Johnson was a member of an organized crime group, in Harlem, during the 1930's. He was also the man who mentored and inspired Denzel Washington's character of Frank Lucas in American Gangster. Long before that film, the story of Bumpy Johnson was told in Hoodlum. This was one of those little told stories about the mafia that started out very strong. Unfortunately, I felt that the writers went into far too much detail at certain points in the film and by the end it was definitely dragging on. Laurence Fishburne stars as Johnson and did an adequate job, my problem with his has always been he lacks emotion in his acting. In my humble opinion this should automatically disqualify him from certain things and this probably should have been one of those things. Tim Roth is Dutch Schultz and while Schultz had a reputation for being a character, Roth went a little over the top with it, but was still very entertaining. My favorite performance was of course the one by Andy Garcia as Lucky Luciano, but he really wasn't in the film much and that's a shame, because nobody plays a crime boss better than hen does. Hoodlum is a wild ride about an incredible true story, but as a film, it was a mix of terrific scenes and some slower unnecessary elements. As a film it's not the best, but it's worth watching just for the amazing story that is being told. Expand
  3. JesseB.
    Jul 20, 2006
    The onlt reason it got a 1 was for the cast. I am a mafia history buff and felt that the Dutch Schultz story was long over due. All the appaling historic inaccuracies made me curse. Plus the movie was boring and vapid taboot. Hoodlum should have never been made, it should be outlawed and all original copies burned. For shame, Hollywood, forshame. Expand