A pair of naive young girls learn that even the most insignificant actions can have lasting consequences. Influenced by the hip-hop thug lifestyle and seeking to explore life outside of their insulated, culturally homogenized suburb, pretty young teenagers Allison and Emily set their sights on East L.A. to experience the "gangsta" lifestyle firsthand. By the time the pair meet a ruthless Mexican drug dealer named Hector, some true-life Latino gang-bangers, and realize just how far out of their element they really are, it may already be too late to turn back. Written by
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It seems that this is one of those films that people either love or hate. I'm more in the middle. At times I found Havoc annoying, but as it progressed, the story became more engaging, and you're supposed to find aspects of it annoying.
Anne Hathaway--who is trying her hardest here to distance herself from her previous Disney and family film image by choosing a role where she's naked and sexual as often as possible--plays Allison, a rich, enigmatic high school student, wrapped up with a very plastic wannabe-gangsta-rapper group of white kids. They have a minor encounter with a Mexican gang in East L.A., and Hathaway finds herself (somewhat) inexplicably drawn to the Mexican gang. She keeps returning to visit one of the leaders, Hector (Freddy Rodriguez). At one point things become more complicated, as the audience surely expects.
The annoying aspect of the film is the rich kid gangsta posers. They seem incredibly fake, stupid and ridiculous. But on the other hand, that's pretty much the point. Los Angeles certainly has a reputation, somewhat deserved, for plasticity, so I suppose that Los Angeles high schools would be even worse, because a large percentage of high school students everywhere tend to conform to some clique or another (as do many adults, for that matter, but the "join a club to fit in and be accepted" mentality is usually more transparent and focused in high school). So the main characters should be annoying, and Allison, and later her friend Emily (Bijou Phillips), should be frustrating in their lack of direction and independent identity.
The problem with Havoc, however, is that the bulk of the running time is given to this irksome, frustrating and ridiculous group of characters. That's not exactly a recipe for falling in love with a film. Both Allison and the audience will likely respond to the Mexican gang better because there is an air of authenticity present with them, thanks largely to the cast playing those roles, but they're just not in the film enough, and the climax and dénouement are far less than satisfactory in that regard. Likewise, one rich kid character who is making an amateur documentary on the rich kid "gang" comes across as more authentic and interesting, but he ends up having an inexcusably minor role.
Still, if you can bear the inundation of poser behavior and lingo, there is an interesting story somewhat buried here, plus some attractive cinematography, a good soundtrack (both the songs and the more traditional score), and I'm certainly not complaining about seeing, um, more of Anne Hathaway. Approach this one with a lot of caution, but it's easy to see how it could be a gem for some.
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