Spike Lee, USA 1995, 128 mins R18 violence, language
The first half of the ’90s saw a proliferation of dramas about inner-city crime, but Spike Lee took his time before jumping into that fray with Clockers, a Richard Price adaptation that debuted to some acclaim and little box office in 1995. True to Lee’s ongoing portrait of Brooklyn, the movie seems more interested in the neighborhood it portrays than the specifics of the drug trade… Lee isn’t in entertainer mode, but despite its mournfulness, the movie is gripping and impeccably made. This was his first of three films with cinematographer Malik Hassan Sayeed, and together the filmmakers crank up the colors in many scenes to a high-contrast hyperrealism that makes the greens of the local park especially verdant – and the whites of interrogation-room lights especially glaring… If the inner-city crime genre of the ’90s has mostly dried up, there’s plenty about Clockers that still resonates.
- Jesse Hassenger, The AV Club.