(1991)

Critic Reviews

61

Metascore

Based on 13 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
88
The movie isn't a comic book that's been assembled out of the spare parts from other crime movies; it's an original, in-depth look at this world, written and directed with concern—apparently after a lot of research and inside information.
88
The "Godfather" films transcended their mobster genre; New Jack City doesn't, but it's a great genre film, edgy, vibrant and full of urgent color.
80
The film's flamboyant portrait of Nino may be stereotypical, but Mr. Snipes makes it chilling.
75
USA Today
City loses some bearings in its second half, becoming a ragged collection of punchy action scenes. Big deal. It's also one of the most enjoyably ragged examples of fuzz vs. scuz since 1972's Across 110th Street. [8 Mar 1991, p.2D]
75
San Francisco Chronicle
Modeling his work after the old Warner Bros. gangster movies of the '30s and '40s, and using plenty of shootouts, Van Peebles still manages to instill a highly personal sense of urgency about the need to eradicate the crack trade. That passion flares through the script by Thomas Lee Wright and Barry Michael Cooper, a former addict who coined the phrase ''new jack'' to describe the flashy style of deprived inner-city youth eager to get rich quick by any means. [8 Mar 1991, p.E3]
70
Filmmakers pull off a provocative, pulsating update on gangster pics with this action-laden epic about the rise and fall of an inner city crack dealer. Strongest element is the anger and disgust directed squarely at drug dealers.
50
Despite its preachiness, we all know New Jack City is making the right statement on drugs, racism, the system, etc. But the fact is it's not very good.
50
The movie has no sense of temptation and no real taste for revolt-it's a good little film that knows its place. Van Peebles' direction has a by-the-numbers competence but no discernible personality.
50
Bad as the overall design remains, individual scenes keep sparking alive, partly because the dialogue, or delivery, seems fresh, and improvisatory; partly because Van Peebles, in his directorial debut, figures out unusual or athletic camera designs for every scene. It's obvious he has talent, equally obvious there's no way this story can work right, no matter how strenuous the staging.
42
It’s got some talented actors and a certain jagged inner-city atmosphere, yet this first feature directed by Mario Van Peebles (son of the veteran black director Melvin Van Peebles) is little more than a sketchy exploitation melodrama.

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