Brandon is a 15 year old whose dream is a pair of fresh Air Jordans. Soon after he gets his hands on them, they're stolen by a local hood, causing Brandon and his two friends to go on a dangerous mission through Oakland to retrieve them.
In the late 80s/ early 1990s, the most feared battle MC in Queens, New York, was a fierce teenage girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders. At the age of 14, Lolita "Roxanne ... See full summary »
A just paroled white neo-nazi and his ruthless girlfriend kill a cop and take an African-American family hostage. Meanwhile the supremacist leader who oversees his criminal empire from behind bars, is not happy. Inspired by real events.
Fifteen-year-old Brandon longs for a pair of the freshest sneakers that money can buy, assuming that merely having them on his feet will help him escape the reality of being poor, neglected by the opposite sex and picked on by everyone - even his best friends. Working hard to get them, he soon finds that the titular shoes have instead made him a target after they are promptly snatched by Flaco, a local hood. Brandon goes on a mission to retrieve his stolen sneakers.
Gym shoes and sneakers are often referred to as kicks in the urban community. The right kicks can take a young man from obscurity to being one of the popular/cool kids. Imagine being a poor and unpopular teen that does not have any luck with the opposite sex. Then one day your life is changed by the acquisition of a pair Jordan sneakers. This is the plot of the film Kicks. A poor teenager, Brandon, procures a pair of Jordan brand basketball shoes that are taken shortly after by a neighborhood thug, Flaco, and the movie follows Brandon in his pursuit to retrieve his stolen kicks.
Kicks is a smaller budget film that was released directly to DVD and video streaming platforms. In spite of its smaller scale release, I found Kicks enjoyable. This motion picture employs the basic storyline in which the main character's property is stolen, and the film is spent following him as he attempts to reclaim the stolen goods. This time the property in question is a pair of sneakers. Now most material things can be replaced, but sneakers, especially these sneakers stolen in Kicks are irreplaceable. Exclusive sneakers are usually either sold in limited quantities, or the price of a reselling of the same shoes is so outrageous, a person might have to take out a second mortgage to purchase them! In the case of Brandon, having these shoes in the first place is happenstance because of his family's economic status.
The biggest problem I had with this film is the pacing. Some of the story elements move too fast where I felt more time was needed. For instance, the build up to Brandon getting the sneakers should have been a slower process. The audience would benefit from seeing the struggle Brandon endures to get the shoes. I purchased my first pair of Jordan gym shoes when I was fifteen years old, the same age as Brandon. I was working my first job at a popular grocery chain, and I wanted the red and black Air Jordan number ones to wear on my first day of school; the same shoes that causes the conflict in Kicks. Even with my part-time job paying weekly, attaining the shoes was still a struggle. I saved for months and even waited in line early on a Saturday morning with the risk the shoes would be sold out before I made it inside the shoe store.
Well, unfortunately for me, the shoes did sell out but luckily one of the salesmen had an extra pair he was willing to sell for an additional $25. The shoes were a half size smaller than I wore at the time. On top of that, they were not the original color-way I was so eager to purchase in the first place; they were navy-blue and white. At that point I did not care because returning home empty handed was not an option. After going through that experience, I would have been devastated if those shoes were stolen. A depiction that illustrates a struggle similar to my experience, or worse would have given the audience the context to understand why it was imperative that Brandon get his Jordan's back.
With all that being said, there were a lot of things that work in this movie, namely, the casting. Kicks has a young cast, but they carry themselves like veterans in the industry. One of the characters I must highlight is Brandon's friend Albert, portrayed by Christopher Jordan Wallace, the son of the late great rapper Notorious B.I.G. Wallace cleverly portrays Albert as the comic relief in the movie and his comedic timing is impeccable. Kicks is a grittier film, so Albert balances the film out with humor, without it feeling out of place. I am not sure if Christopher is planning on following his father's footsteps with pursuing a career in music, but he has a bright future in the entertainment industry as an actor.
Jahking Guillory was just right for the role of Brandon because he is actually the age of the character he is portraying; a rare occurrence in Hollywood portrayals of adolescents. He has a certain innocence that made me feel protective over his character which makes me root for him throughout the movie. Kofi Siriboe, who depicts Flaco is the perfect antagonist because he is the exact opposite of Brandon. Flaco is menacing with no remorse for his actions, and the viewer can tell he has been through some struggles in his lifetime. Although Flaco is a threatening character, the director Justin Tipping still manages to humanize him; a pertinent component in the creation of a good villain.
This is the directorial debut of a full-length picture for Justin Tipping and all in all, I was thoroughly impressed. What he is able to pull off with a smaller budget is quite remarkable, and I look forward to seeing more of his work. If you are a fan of coming of age stories that deal with real world situations, I recommend Kicks for your viewing pleasure.
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