Rated: R for drug use, graphic violence and street obscenities. Reviewed by: Chris Release date: September 13, 1995 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
Rough, violent and to the point is director Spike Lee's style and with this film he explores the drug culture with that same fervor.
Extremely realistic pictures of murder victims are the backdrop to the opening credits and sets the stage for the story of drug dealers (Clockers) in the Brooklyn housing projects.
The main character is Strike (Mekhi Phifer), a young black clocker who deals in the neighborhood square. He works for a sleaze shopkeeper (Delroy Lindo) who recruits young boys to sell his crack by telling them they can make enough money to buy expensive sneakers.
Strike's older brother, Victor, is a clean-living, hardworking husband and father. He lives in the projects with his wife, two kids and mother and is trying to make enough money to move out of the neighborhood.
Although it looks like Strike will be the one to spend his life in jail, ironically, it's his brother who confesses to the murder of a fast food restaurant manager.
Victor tells his story to detective Rocco Klein (Harvey Keitel) and claims self defense. Klein believes he's got the wrong brother locked up and hounds Strike to get him to own up to the murder.
Lee brings his audience into the world of drugs, big money, hangers-on, pathetic users and bravado. The more depressing aspect is the neighborhood kids who look up to these dealer, the money they have and the respect they inspire. It's all very appealing to these youngsters who have very little chance for survival, never mind success.
There's so much going on in Lee's films that you really have to pay attention to every detail. He uses background rap music, flashbacks and unusual camera angles to enhance the action, but at some point, it becomes distracting to the story itself.
The script delves into the fear, danger and violence that is part of the drug world. It never glorifies its use, but shows it to be what it is - ugly and heartbreaking.