"As a film about loyalty, family revenge and cultural integration, Yardie successfully brings to the screen a realistic representation of a cross-section of the Jamaican society"
Idris Elba’s directorial debut, Yardie, is a movie about the power of revenge and brotherly love. The film is set in a Jamaica divided by gangs trying to rule the drug business between the 70’s and 80’s.
Narrated from the protagonist’s point of view, the movie follows, Dennis, a young boy living in the outskirt of Kingston in a small village. From the beginning D makes it clear that a man can only have two paths in Jamaica, the righteous one or the one chose by someone else for you which involves only danger and pain.
While he is still young and innocent, Dennis witnesses his brother’s death while he tries to stop the street war between the two most important gangs in the city. Incredibly shocked by the event, D decides that staying out of the gang war will not allow him to avenge his brother and find his killer.
The movie swiftly moves ten years later, with D, now an adult, working for one of the Gang bosses. The more he shows his loyalty, the bigger his responsibilities become and Dennis ends up in London to negotiate a drug deal with Rico (Stephen Graham), a drug dealer in the UK capital with Jamaican connections.
In London, Dennis gets to see his long time girlfriend, moved to the Capital to have a better future for herself and their daughter. However, he is haunted by his brother’s death and the need to find the culprit. The need to avenge him leads him on a much too dangerous path in London and Dennis has to choose between being loyal to his gang or his family.
In his directorial debut, Idris Elba shows a great command and outstanding technical skills behind the camera. The story is linear and shows the right balance between giving the audience the right background information to understand the protagonist, without making the story too descriptive, and the action.
The film picks up the pace immediately and the result is a dynamic story which benefits from a good mixture of aerial shots and close ups on the characters. Between the celebration of the Jamaican culture as well as the protagonist’s emotions.
The music sets the mood and transports the audience to a Jamaica that is broken by poverty and gang wars, while still harbouring hope in the few people that want peace and prosperity in their Country.
The cast is extremely diverse and it champions the huge effort that Hollywood is making in being more inclusive.; all the actors involved in the project are talented and embrace their ethnicity in such a unique way that in some aspects celebrates the Jamaican culture.
The dialogue are conducted in Jamaican English, which makes it slightly difficult to have a complete understanding of the conversations. However, the intense use of this slang makes the topic of cultural integration even more poignant and the story more authentic.
As a film about loyalty, family revenge and cultural integration, Yardie successfully brings to the screen a realistic representation of a cross-section of the Jamaican society and its difficult reality that, in so many ways, is still contemporary to these days.