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Leary, Demme, and screenwriter Mike Armstrong have come up with a brilliant, harrowing portrait of misplaced loyalties and savage valor that may be one of the best character-driven ensemble pieces to come around in some time.
There is a whole genre of films about childhood friends still living in the old neighborhood and going down the drain of crime and drugs. Few of them capture the fatigue and depression, and the futility, as well as this one, in which the characters hold on to their self-respect by obeying the very rules that are grinding them down.