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Proof that Jamaicans love Scarface as much as Americans, Shottas regurgitates worn-out gangsta tropes in telling the story of two hoods trying to make it big in both Jamaica and Miami’s crime worlds. Written and directed by Cess Silvera, the film—subtitled because of its characters’ heavy patois—is little more than a music video-ish glorification of the hip-hop lifestyle crammed full of shootouts, drug deals, busty women, and endless use of the word “bloodclot,” Jamaica’s version of everybody’s favorite four-letter expletive. Lifelong friends Biggs (Kymani Marley) and Wayne (dancehall celebrity Spragga Benz) reunite after years apart to take over their native island’s underworld, a plan that involves murdering anyone foolish enough to oppose or conspire against them. Like a less skillful Tony Scott, Silvera shoots his directorial debut—which has been sitting on a studio shelf since 2002, and with good reason—with plenty of jumpy edits, unnecessary aerial shots, and fluctuating camera speeds, an empty style perfectly in keeping with a frivolous narrative that makes Grand Theft Auto‘s storylines look downright profound by comparison. Lousy slow-motion cinematography accompanies virtually every killing as well as Biggs’s hilarious shower sex scene, Wyclef Jean heartily overacts in his screen debut, and Stephen Marley’s vociferous reggae-rap soundtrack makes painfully literal the film’s The Harder They Come-Get Rich or Die Tryin’ hybridization. Amusingly, singer-turned-actor Kymani Marley can barely keep his heavy-lidded eyes open during half his scenes, a likely byproduct of his having overly enjoyed his home country’s most famous herbal produce. Still, one can only wonder what the Shottas star’s dad might have thought of his son’s participation in a project whose sole purpose is the unabashed celebration of bloodshed.

Destination Films
95 min
Cess Silvera
Cess Silvera
Kymani Marley, Paul Campbell, Wyclef Jean, Spragga Benz, Louie Rankin

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