Zero in the System (2013) Poster

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Raw and low-budget character study of a vigilante
krachtm7 August 2014
The plot: After he turns his life around, an ex-con turns vigilante to protect his neighborhood from drug dealers.

I walked into this film not really knowing anything about it, so I expected that it would probably be an urban-themed update of Death Wish. When I saw the Phase 4 Films logo, I lowered my expectations significantly, as Phase 4 has become infamous in some quarters for distributing backyard productions. The production values are actually a bit more raw and low-budget than their usual fare, but it sort of works for the gritty story. The film itself is more of a character study than an outright thriller. It's not exactly Taxi Driver, but it's got significantly more depth than I initially expected, especially once I saw the Phase 4 logo.

The camera work is a bit frenetic during the action scenes, and I think people who were expected bloody carnage may be a bit disappointed. There's more atmosphere -- a strong sense of approaching dread -- than there are scenes of vigilante justice. You can tell that Earl, the protagonist, is conflicted about his path, and the scenes of quiet, angry contemplation were fairly well done for a low budget film. Earl's girlfriend begins to tell him about her day, and he sits there in his car, stewing over a minor incident in which a teenager casually disrespects him. Eventually, Earl gets out of the car while his girlfriend is in mid-sentence, confronts the teenagers, and then tries to smooth things over with his girlfriend. It's obvious that he's going to have to make a decision about his lifestyle soon. Earl is an angry man, and you're never quite sure where his anger is going to lead him.

Earl is an interesting guy, and I was never bored. I'm not quite sure to whom I would recommend this film, however. What it lacks in exploitative violence, it makes up for in depth. I suppose, to some extent, you might compare it to John Sayles' work in low budget exploitation films, elevating them to higher levels. It's also got some elements of early Spike Lee or John Singleton urban dramas, and if you miss those, maybe you'll enjoy this.
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nogodnomasters10 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The film is also titled "Zero in the System." This is not its own sequel. Earl Coleman (Mike Simmons) has spent 5 years in prison. While in prison his sister dies from crack cocaine. Earl gets a regular job, but then goes "Charles Bronson" all over the dealers in his neighborhood. He also attempts to be a big brother while roughing up litterbugs.

Much of the film is spent developing the relationship between Earl and single mom Keisha (Tabitha Holbert). There are a few bad guy scenes, but this film doesn't cater to action/horror/ or blood fans. Much of the punching is done with a fist going at the camera.

I thought Simmons did an excellent job in his acting debut while the supporting cast needed help. The plot was slow developing and wasn't worth the wait.

Parental Guide: F-bomb. No sex or nudity.
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jfieldster14 May 2014
Excellent film with brilliant direction, deceptively subtle and both sweet and harsh. Fabulous acting and dry as bone cinematography that just gets under your skin. Watch the folks associated with this film. There's blazing talent here.

The cinematography has a spareness and also an elegance.

There's a gutsy minimalistic feel to the entire movie.

It's never pretentious thought.

The one weakness for me were the cops. But otherwise, I don't know, just reminded me of people I've met, places I've seen, and sadness that won't leave you. But also integrity and courage. Defeated sometimes by anger.

Just a great film.
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Who doesn't like a good ole gangsta film?
jimmygils13 February 2014
Slang dialogue shot from the HIP packing a GAT held by an aggressive gangsta. You have to appreciate something that paints a picture of the unfortunate life of many. When these movies are done well, you realize your own luck.

Earl Coleman (Mike Simmons) loses his sister to drugs while in prison. From that moment on, he condemns his ex gangsta life style. The thugs are still in town, and Earl must live his clean life surrounded by filth.

Tim McCann must be an OG cause he writes/directs/films/produces/edits a very raw unfiltered view of the hood. The up close and personal camera work really adds a layer of intensity that allows you to actually feel the tension of the scene. By performing 5 of the key roles, McCann saves a portion of this small budget to bring on some fantastic talent. In particular, Mike Simmons genuinely delivers a righteous individual fighting to control his sanity.

Help this team out; spark a jay, sit back, and enjoy this undiscovered film.
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