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“Murder City” is a movie with fine actors and cinematography that’s in search of a more riveting story. The audience spends most of the time watching an event unfold, but we rarely get insight into who the people in this event are and why we should care about them.
“Murder City” focuses on Mike Colter’s Neil, a cop who gets arrested when he tries to help his struggling father with a drug deal. The drug deal turns out to be a setup by the DEA that leaves both Neil and his father in prison.
Two years later, Neil is out of prison, but he’s still trapped by his father’s debts. Neil’s brother, Spence, takes him to see his father’s biggest creditor, Ash. Ash is a ruthless kingpin who never forgets a debt owed and has the cunning ability to trap whole families in her crime web. She explains that while Neil was in prison, she was helping pay for his wife and child’s financial security, but now it’s time for Neil to repay her through unwavering service to her crime world. Neil may want a simple life with his wife Molly and their child, but he’s forced to act as Ash’s muscle and drug trafficker.
Meanwhile, Neil’s father, Graham, is talking to the DEA in hopes of getting out of prison earlier. Neil tries to keep his father from harm from Ash and the DEA by trying to be an informer and get Ash in prison. But Neil’s plans go awry when Ash learns that Graham and Neil are both trying to take her out.
In an act of lethal vengeance, Ash orders a hit on Neil and his whole family. His brother Spence is killed in a raid, his father Graham is shanked to death, and his wife is beaten within an inch of her life. Heartbroken but with nothing to lose, Neil decides to take matters into his own hands and hunt down Ash and her cronies.
“Murder City” is filmed with a keen eye for shadows and a dash of neon colors in each scene. Yet the cinematography tells a more interesting story than the actual filmed script. Each character grimaces their way through a scene, with no one being able to really have fun with their character except Stephanie Sigman as Ash. “Murder City” should be dark and grim, yet what makes it a chore to watch is that there’s nothing unique said, done, or shown in this by-the-numbers crime movie.
Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.
A disgraced cop who wants to start anew with his wife and son but is pulled back into the world of crime. Even though most of what happens to Neil is out of control, he’s persistent in trying to find a way out of his dire situation.
A cold-blooded killer and leader of a crime syndicate that peddles drugs throughout the city. Ash is looking for what’s owed to her and enjoys exerting her reach and control over Neil and his family.
- The actor is also known for their role in “S.W.A.T.” and “Annabelle: Creation.”
Neil’s elderly father who finds himself in prison after accidentally trying to sell drugs to the DEA. Neil is making up for his father’s mistakes with the drug lords and the DEA.
- The actor is also known for their roles in “Foxy Brown,” “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” and “Shaft.”
Neil’s wife who is supportive of Neil yet has waning faith in his ability to start a new life and do right by their child. Molly is also unaware that she’s in debt to Ash for working at her bar.
- The actor is also known for their role in “Those Who Wish Me Dead” and “The Walking Dead.”
Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)
Striking Cinematography and Lighting Create a Ghostly City
From Ash’s Bar to the night streets of Detroit, the cinematography and lighting in “Murder City” provide a dreamy glimpse into Neil’s crime world. It’s filled with shadows and alluring neon colors, where danger can lurk in every corner. The aesthetic in “Murder City” earns a neo-noir title that tempts the viewer to watch more.
Music Undercuts Drama of Moments
“Bang Bang, I’m Coming” are lyrics heard in the final showdown between Neil and Ash. Instead of suspenseful silence as Neil walks down the alley, a pop song decides to play. Multiple tense moments in “Murder City” become laughable when nondescript pop songs become the soundtrack to the characters. The film would have benefited more from songs without vocals, a tense score, or nothing at all.
On The Fence
Grim Monotonous Characters For 80 Minutes
“Murder City” starts with Neil at a low point. The audience doesn’t get a sense of what he had or lost, and that’s one of the issues within the film. It’s so deeply rooted in its grimness that it becomes flat. The stone faces, the fights, and the action sequences provide little excitement to the viewer when we expect the worst and never witness the best. One of the few beautiful moments is seeing Neil and Molly dance together in a dream or flashback sequence, and “Murder City” could have used more of this quick touch of life prior to Neil’s imprisonment.
|Director(s)||Michael D. Olmos|
|Screenplay By||Will Simmons|
|Date Released (Tubi/Film Festival )||June 29, 2023|
|Film Length||1 Hour, 25 Minutes|
|Content Rating||Not Rated|
|Noted Characters and Cast|
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What Is “Murder City” Rated And Why?
“Murder City” is Not Rated, but includes strong profanity, violence, drug use, and one scene of nudity at a strip club.
Where Can I Watch “Murder City?”
Murder City is now available on Tubi.
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