Elba has a very apparent appreciation for music and that puts him in a commanding position to set the tone of Yardie

It was always going to be difficult for a debut director to attempt to reproduce any of the highly respected work of Victor Headley in the format of a mainline feature film. This was made infinitely more difficult when the role was placed in the hands of universally well known actor Idris Elba. This added pressure put unrealistic expectations onto a film that was ultimately going to struggle to be the best it could be. However, Elba has managed to make Yardie a musically excellent piece, that may not be perfect but certainly entertains in many of the ways it was supposed to.

After witnessing his brother’s murder, D (Aml Ameen) is cast into adult life with no male role model. Taken in by gang leader King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd), D quickly becomes his go to man to get things done, driven on by the drive of catching his Brother’s killer. But when he begins to cause too much of a stir in Kingston, D is sent to London to hand deliver a package of cocaine to club owner Rico (Stephen Graham). The very city his childhood lover now resides in.

Aml Ameen in Yardie

Elba catches the smokey and mysterious nature of Rico’s club better than anything else. He has a very apparent appreciation for music and that puts him in a commanding position to set the tone of Yardie from the moment D reaches London. Even the early scenes set in Kingston show his understanding of how music enhances film, and more importantly how it affects the tone of the piece, but it is the London scenes that give it a personalised sense of character.

Though outside of the musical moments, Yardie does lack a connecting purpose. It moves from scene to scene with no real attempt to create such a connection, putting D’s life choices into question, rather than solidifying why he is making such decisions. It has to be put down to Elba’s inexperience as a director, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of trying. There needed to be less explanation and more detail, especially with Elba’s clear and intricate knowledge of music. The tracks needed integrating into the film’s woodwork extensively, making it even more intrinsic to the film’s explanations and story. In Yardie’s case there is simply no limit for too much of a good thing.

Yet looking at it purely as a film, removing Elba’s stance in popular culture and taking Yardie for what is presented on screen; the film is an accomplished piece, able to tell its story without any real hitches. There’s obvious room for improvement and the script is far too wordy, but the overall nature, the worldwide setting and the unpredictable story of the original novel make Yardie a thrilling watch, especially for anyone who doesn’t know the main plot points before going into their screening.

4/5

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