Film Review-Evolution Of A Criminal
‘Evolution Of A Criminal’ Film review by John Andreasen
I knew nothing about this story before seeing the film. I knew the title, and that it was a documentary. That’s it. And yet I can’t say that it turned out to be something completely different than what I was expecting. It was not. So if you haven’t seen it, and you’re thinking, oh, I get it, this is a real-life look at how a young man went from a straight and narrow path to that of a criminal – yup, you got it. But if you think, oh, ok, I don’t need to see that, I already know what happens – nope, you don’t got it.
Because this is a piece of cinema that informs. It’s in the subtleties of the story. It comes together to give you a more complete and meaningful experience, one that could launch a conversation that lasts beyond the exit doors of the theatre.
It was written and directed by the person who played the starring role in the real life episode, Darius Clark Monroe. But it was created under the supervision of Executive Producer Spike Lee, and I’m guessing there are more than a few of his fingerprints scattered throughout the film. Why? Because it’s damn good, that’s why. But make no mistake – this is Mr. Monroe’s story, top to bottom, and it is poignant, and revealingly told, and a well-made piece of cinema.
Ten years after nearly getting away with a bank robbery, Darius tells the story of how he, as a teenager of 16, lost sight of his moral compass, such as it is at that age, and went from being a kid with aspirations and direction to a federal offender, charged as an adult. Normally when we hear about incidents like this, it’s a 90 second “news” story, sandwiched between something insignificant and the weather. But along with his two accomplices, family members, friends, and even victims who were in the bank at the time of the robbery, (and others), Darius exposes details that help us to understand how a young man can be become so corrupted. And it’s not the usual suspects for a low income kid. There are no bullies, or gang members, coercing him. There are no bad, irresponsible family members applying pressure. No drugs. No nada. So what is the reason?
That’s what this film is really all about, and I hope a lot of people see it, and it helps to continue and expand the discussion about something far too many people live with these days: financial insecurity. That’s what this 16 year old kid was reacting to, and that is the genuine antagonist in this film.
Darius and Spike team up for some nice chops in the production – the use of calm but dramatic music; slow motion; and repeating scenes where, the first time you see it the image is impactful, but the second time you see it the story behind it has been revealed and the impact becomes stronger and more disturbing. These film techniques provide a tense undertone to what is already an intensely sobering real-life situation. I think it works. And I was certainly caught up in his story.
Special mention to T. Griffin for his original score, which was moving and in perfect step with the story.
Evolution Of A Criminal in theaters Now in Los Angeles at Laemmle Music Hall and in select cities across the nation throughout October and November.