'New Jack City' feelds dated at time but still proves to be a good gangster film

Art Sims Talks Creating Iconic 'New Jack City' Movie Poster ...Story

Set during the crack epidemic of the '80s and '90s. Nino Brown becomes a ruthless leader of a drug syndicate in New York. While battles to control his drug empire two detectives vow to do everything to bring him down.

This story is one that has been done time and time again but that doesn't mean there is nothing to offer. While the story isn't reinventing the wheel, it has its fair share of surprises that elevate it from your average gangster movie. (Even though it does feel like that at certain points)


This movie has tons of recognise-able names, Wesley Snipes Ice-T, Chris Rock and Judd Nelson (which makes me wonder why I’d never heard of this movie till a few days ago) and they’re all good.

Wesley Snipes carries this movie. I knew he could act but in this movie, he is ACTING. So much so that everyone around him drags him down a little. That’s not to say that the other actors are bad but there are discrepancies. Nino Brown is charismatic while also being incredibly unpredictable and that is what makes him fun to watch as you’re never entirely sure what he is going to do which also adds tension.

I would say that the only performances comparable to his, is Chris Rock’s. This is one of the few times that he isn't a comedic character. Even though he has funny moments, he isn't the comedic relief character and I'm grateful for it because he subverted all of my expectations.


I'd say this is one of the weaker parts of the film. When I say the film feels dated a lot of that comes from how the characters are written. They are very much a product of the late '80s and early '90s. Especially in their vernacular. A lot of language used in the movie isn't used today and because of that some of the dialogue is a little cringy. And even though it did take me out of the movie, those moments are few and far between.

One thing that surprised me was the fact that this was Mario Van Peebles directorial debut and as far as directorial debuts go, this was a really good one. There is good pacing, character motivation and the movie overall flows and was easy for me to follow even though I had to stop multiple times while I watched it and that will always be a good thing in my book.

CGI/Set Design

This is something else that dates the film, in one of the establishing shots you see the Twin Towers. I'm not blaming the movie for including that footage at the movie was released 10 years before 9/11, however seeing those building tells you just how old the movie is.


I was surprised at how musical this movie is. There are characters who are singing for seemingly no reason and it did take me out of the film because I realised after a few seconds that there as no narrative reason for 4 guys to sing outside a crackhouse but hey, they were really good singers so there is that.

The actual soundtrack fits the tone of the film perfectly and I'm not surprised that it went to Number 1 on Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. When you have Queen Latifah, Ice-T and Keith Sweat, I'm not expecting anything else. The best way to describe the music in this movie is suave, much like the main character.

Overall Thoughts

I enjoyed this movie, however, it does play like your typical gangster film, meaning that you’ll probably guess how the movie is going to end. That doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it though. It’s tense, dramatic and at times funny and it also has a few surprising moments

The main issue with this movie is its timestamp. It’s very obviously a product of the ’90s and when you watch it you can see that it’s dated. Has it aged well? Yes and No. Some moments could have been pulled from a movie that was released this year. While other moments are very clearly reminiscent of movies set in the '90s. Even though it is quite dated, it doesn't take you out of the film too much. The story is one that is still pretty applicable today and for that fact I would recommend it.