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Doing Hard Time (2004)

He had to get in to get even.

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 95 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18


Revenge, a bit like salad, is a dish best served cold – and, in ‘Doing Hard Time’, they’re all at it (seeking revenge that is, not eating salad). You see, there’s this bloke called Razor (Michael Kimbrew) who starts shooting at another bloke called Curtis (Michael K. Williams), who in turn starts shooting back. Got it so far? Good. Anyway, a 7-year-old kid gets caught in the crossfire, but the police can’t figure out which of the two men fired the offending bullet so – in an ever-so-slightly far-fetched plot-turn – both men get banged up in the nick for five years. Oh yeah, and they go to the same prison, so Curtis is able to exact his revenge on Razor for having the cheek to shoot at him in the first place.

Meanwhile, on the outside, the kid’s dad Michael (Boris Kodjoe) is understandably miffed. “Five years?” he says. “That’s never enough!” So he devises a cunning plan to beat the living snot out of a passing policeman (Emilio Rivera) and get himself a jail sentence of his own so that he can go after the pesky ne’er-do-wells who shot his son in the face. Once inside (it goes without saying, of course, that he too is put in exactly the same prison as the other two) he intends to get his own back using a homemade gun which he will fashion out of papier mache, sticky-back plastic and an old bottle of washing up liquid (let’s hope he asked his mum to do any bits involving the use of scissors though – safety first, kids!). But the list of vengeance-seekers doesn’t end there, because there’s also the small issue of the cop who was left in a wheelchair by Michael’s attack and, understandably, feels a mite bitter about the whole thing.

Is this the most contrived pile of codswallop ever? Probably not – after all, there’s always How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. But Shawshank this ain’t. The story doesn’t stand up to even the slightest level of poking about, especially as it’s obvious from the outset that basic forensics would have no trouble at all in identifying which man shot the kid in the first place. And then there’s the characters: on top of the main players, look out for an over-acting detective (Steven Bauer) who tries to flog us more cheese than a Mini Babybel commercial, and the ridiculously-named prison kingpin Mathematic (Sticky Fingaz who, now I come to think of it, has an even dafter name in real life) who’s apparently a “calculating” (arf!) cold-blooded killer, and quite possibly also a dab hand at reciting his times tables.

Lousy acting aside though, the bulk of the blame for this failure has to lie unequivocally on the shoulders of Preston A. Whitmore. He wrote, produced, directed AND edited this ill-thought-out project, and the end product is a mess.

It's Got: Shoogly camerawork.

It Needs: To ditch the excessive number of shots lingering on nudey manbums. People will talk!

DVD Extras There ain’t no extras, homes. Version reviewed Doing Hard Time [2004] also from DVD Extras Rating: 0/10


You’ll have a ‘Hard Time’ taking this load of plopsy seriously.