‘Yardie’ Film Review: Idris Elba Falls Short With Atmospheric Directorial Debut

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

There’s something missing in “Yardie,” Idris Elba’s directorial debut, but I can’t quite place my finger on it. The acting is decent, the cinematography is well-executed, and the music is on point, but the delivery and the tone are completely mismatched. It feels as if the film itself is aching to say something more, but is ultimately muted by choices the freshman director withheld from making.

Based on the 1992 book by Victor Headley, the film opens in 1973 Kingston, Jamaica. There’s a gang war, and young D (Antwayne Eccleston) is being raised by his older brother, Jerry Dread (Everaldo Creary, “Better Mus Come”) while King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd) — a gang leader, don, and music producer — acts a sort of father figure to both. During a concert meant to unite rival gangs in Kingston, Jerry is gunned down, leaving D to be raised by King Fox.

Years later, adult D (Aml Ameen, “Sense 8”) is working for King Fox in whatever capacity he needs, which includes becoming a courier to London where he needs to deliver cocaine to local crime boss Rico (Stephen Graham, “Boardwalk Empire”). While in London, D attempts to reconnect with his childhood love, Yvonne (Shantol Jackson) and their young daughter, who he hasn’t seen since her infancy. The coke deal goes awry, and as D figures out his next step, he must choose between keeping his family safe or taking down the person he thinks killed his brother.

Watch Video: Idris Elba Insists He Wasn’t Thinking About Modern Race Issues With ’70s-Set ‘Yardie’

Though the film offers solid performances from its ensemble, much of Ameen’s work is overshadowed by clumsy narration that weaves in and out at odd moments. Ameen is capable of carrying much of the film’s inner monologues in his own performance, which makes the narration extraneous and baffling.

Graham, a fine actor, does the best he can with the caricature of a drug lord he is given. The problem lies in the script by Brock Norman Brock (“Bronson”) and Martin Stellman (“Babylon”): Rico reads like a parody instead of the actual threat he may pose to D, which isn’t Graham’s fault, but the writers’ and director Elba’s indecisive choices.

Also Read: Idris Elba in Talks to Replace Will Smith as Deadshot in ‘Suicide Squad’ Sequel

Having not read Headley’s novel, but knowing that it became a literary sensation by being sold outside concert halls and hair salons within the very community it discusses, it would appear that the source material has more to say about warring neighborhoods, and the rampant drugs and crime surrounding them. In the big-screen version of “Yardie,” these ideas are touched on superficially without going deep enough to provide true representation. The film’s tone wobbles between full-on crime drama and the book’s empathetic portrayal of a specific community.

Elba’s film reflects conflict through its soundtrack, relying solely on music supervisor Nick Angel’s choices, which exude both the joy of the Rastafarian lifestyle and the darkness of a country plagued by gang wars. There are moments when an adult D takes the mic and spouts verses that are beautiful, painful and poetic, but this B-story goes nowhere, thus ending any way of having the music save the choppiness of the film’s tone.

Watch Video: Idris Elba Sees His Dreams of Becoming a DJ Crushed in ‘Turn Up Charlie’ Trailer

Director of photography John Conroy (who worked with Elba on TV’s “Luther”) also tries to bridge the gaps in tone by allowing the audience a chance to see a side of Jamaica that isn’t typically seen. The country remains as beautiful as we’re used to seeing it, but Conroy makes the dark underbelly come alive in color, showing what a beautifully broken existence it is to live in a world with a stunning landscape surrounded by poverty and crime. On the flip side, however, London could have been presented a bit grittier — instead it feels tidy, despite the chaos Rico and his gang cause.

There’s no question that Elba is a talented actor, but his debut on the other side of the lens falls a bit short. Director need to make decisions to get a story across, and Elba appears to have been too shy or too reluctant to make them. “Yardie” suffers for it.



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Idris Elba Sees His Dreams of Becoming a DJ Crushed in ‘Turn Up Charlie’ Trailer (Video)

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Idris Elba is squashing any lingering hopes that he’ll one day play James Bond by fulfilling his dreams to be a DJ.

Rather than swigging martinis and driving an Aston Martin, People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” now stars in new Netflix comedy series, “Turn Up Charlie,” as a struggling British DJ trying to get his break in the music business.

In the new trailer that dropped Thursday, we see Charlie hitting the decks, hitting the floor as he falls out of bed with a mystery woman, and almost hitting rockbottom as he struggles to pay the bills. Luckily, he also lands a job offer — as a nanny for his best friend’s wild 11-year-old daughter.

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According to Netflix’s official description, “Turn Up Charlie” centers on the titular Charlie (Elba), a struggling DJ and eternal bachelor, who is given a final chance at success when he reluctantly becomes a “manny” to his famous best friend’s problem-child daughter, Gabby (Frankie Hervey). Piper Perabo and JJ Feild co-star.

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Elba and Gary Reich co-created “Turn Up Charlie” and will serve as executive producers along with Tristram Shapeero. Shapeero will also direct the series with Matt Lipsey. Martin Joyce and Ana Garanito are co-executive producers. The series is co-produced by Reich’s Brown Eyed Boy Productions and Elba’s Green Door Pictures.

Elba will next be seen hosting “Saturday Night Live” on March 9. And while U.K. audiences have already indulged in “Luther” Season 5, Americans are still waiting for it to premiere on BBC America or Netflix.

He’ll also be playing a real-life DJ at Coachella in April, after being named as one of the headline performers.

In the meantime, all eight episodes of “Turn Up Charlie” Season 1 will premiere globally on March 15.

Watch the trailer above.

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Idris Elba to Make ‘SNL’ Hosting Debut Next Month

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Idris Elba is set to host “Saturday Night Live” for the first time next month.

The “Luther” star will be joined by R&B singer Khalid, also making his “SNL” debut, on the March 9 episode of the NBC sketch series.

Elba’s appearance comes in support of his upcoming Netflix comedy, Turn Up Charlie,” which Elba co-created and stars in as a struggling DJ-turned-nanny to his famous friend’s problem-child. Also starring Piper Perabo, JJ Feild and Frankie Hervey, the series premieres Friday, March 15.

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The duo follow the previously announced John Mulaney, who is set to return to the show for the second time on March 2. He’ll be joined by country singer Thomas Rhett as musical guest.

Coming to #SNL in March!

@mulaney
@ThomasRhett
@idriselba
@thegreatkhalid pic.twitter.com/TMQJ8aKhNw

— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) February 20, 2019

“Saturday Night Live” airs live coast-to-coast Saturdays at 11:30 ET/8:30 PT on NBC.

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‘Hobbs and Shaw’: Production Wraps on Dwayne Johnson ‘Fast and Furious’ Spinoff (Photo)

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“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” has wrapped production, prompting Dwayne Johnson to give his co-star Jason Statham a shout out as one “tough bastard” who he’d remember making “laugh so f—ing hard during the [sic] our takes he couldn’t even talk.”

“HOBBS & SHAW is officially wrapped,” Johnson said on his Instagram account posted along with a photo of him, Statham and a helicopter rigged off the ground.

“Easily the most challenging film I’ve ever produced and starred in,” Johnson wrote, adding that it is also shaping up to be his most rewarding film. He then gave kudos to Statham, giving him a “HUGE bald and brotherly MAHALO” for trusting him and their chemistry, and who “‘pushed all his chips in’ to make something bad ass and fun for the fans.”

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Read Johnson’s complete message to fans below.

View this post on Instagram

Last men standing. HOBBS & SHAW is officially wrapped. Easily the most challenging film I’ve ever produced and starred in, however based on the fans’ insanely hyped “break the internet” reactions to our first trailer — this film is also shaping up to be my most rewarding. A HUGE bald and brotherly MAHALO to the man who trusted me and our chemistry and “pushed all his chips in” to make something bad ass and fun for the fans. My uso @jasonstatham. He’s one legit talented and tough bastard and the pure joy I got from making him laugh so fucking hard during the our takes he couldn’t even talk, I will always remember with evil ???? glee. Finally, one of the best heli pilots in the world @fred_north demonstrating here our extreme commitment we all had to deliver the goods to our worldwide audience. #ThatsAWrap #LastMenStanding #AllChipsIn #HOBBSANDSHAW AUGUST 2nd @sevenbucksprod

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When we last saw Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw in “The Fate of the Furious,” the two bitter enemies had reconciled after joining forces to defeat Cipher. Now the two are taking a break from Dominic Toretto’s family to stop an international terrorist played by Idris Elba.

Action director David Leitch (“John Wick,” “Deadpool 2”) directed the film, which was written by longtime “Fast and Furious” screenwriter Chris Morgan.

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The film also stars Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, and Johnson’s cousin and WWE wrestler Roman Reigns, who filmed his scenes while recovering from a leukemia diagnosis that put his wrestling career on hold.

“Hobbs and Shaw” arrives in theaters Aug. 2.

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