Unlawful Justice Image

Unlawful Justice

By Alan Ng | November 3, 2019

Unlawful Justice is a message film with all the best intentions in the world as it calls out both sides of the conflict so familiar to the inner-city. This decades-long conflict between the protectors and the protected in LA. The cops feel like their hands are tied as they try their best to protect and serve, and on the other hand, the inner-city citizens don’t know who to trust. Everyone has problems, and no one plays by the rules.

Unlawful Justice is billed as a gritty street drama, but in actuality, it’s a depressing, pessimistic, life-sucks character piece. There’s very little action in the film to satiate our thirst for violence that we associate with cop dramas. Instead, our characters pair off and talk about either their miserable lives, a tragic story from their past, or the injustice of the system. Honestly, the discussions are not that unique. What’s being said is necessary to today’s conversation about police brutality, but not new or profound. There’s a noir element to the story as the fates of our lead characters become more and more bleak as their circumstances lead them to commit some life-altering act.

“…a message film with all the best intentions in the world as it calls out both sides of the conflict…”

I appreciate the acting in the film. It’s not the best, but writer/director Chris Baxter has a cast that’s eager to do an excellent job as they are given a chance to all have meaty roles with meaty dialogue. The film is dialogue-heavy with emotion built into it (usually sadness or despair), and its actors do a fantastic job delivering that dialogue.

Again, Unlawful Justice has the best of intentions. Clearly, its aim is for the lead characters to plunge deep into the depth of despair before pulling them out. They sink pretty deep. There are a few bright moments of hope, goodwill, and redemption at the end. Unfortunately, this literally happens at the very end. There’s not so much of a character arc for our leads, but more of a quick ricochet.

Unlawful Justice (2019)

Directed and Written: Chris Baxter

Starring: Emmanuel Vega, Jezabel Montero, Marlon Fisher, Leila Symington, Chance Harlem Jr., etc.

Movie score: 5/10

Unlawful Justice Image

"…a depressing, pessimistic, life-sucks character piece."

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