Yardie: Film Review

I wanted to check out Yardie purely to see what Idris Elba was like as a feature film director. This is an impressive and assured debut, but I wasn’t particularly wowed by the story.

Aml Ameen stars as D, a Jamaican who is sent to London after his brother is killed. He is sent with a package of cocaine with instructions to give it to Rico (Stephen Graham), but D doesn’t trust him so decides to sell it to Rico’s rival, getting him caught up in more gangster trouble than he had back home. He is also trying to resume his relationship with Yvonne (Shantol Jackson), the mother of his daughter Vanessa, who left for London years before to start a new life.

I much preferred the family stuff – D trying to make things right with Yvonne, who is torn between her love for D and trying to protect their daughter – than the gangster stuff. D makes a lot of bad decisions so he’s not the most sympathetic character, but his heart is mostly in the right place and you know he’s still hurting over this brother’s death, which he is trying to avenge.

Ameen is British but his Jamaican accent is really convincing. A bit too convincing actually, as I struggled to understand what he was saying quite often, whereas the actual Jamaican actors were much easier. Despite that, Ameen was very good in a subtle way, conveying that trauma D has been through. My favourite, however, was Jackson, who is feisty and takes no shit. She doesn’t want someone involved in criminal dealings to be around her child, even if that person is the dad. Graham was also a lot of fun to watch thanks to his deliberately dodgy Jamaican accent that provided a lot of laughs.

Yardie doesn’t really show us anything original, it treads the same ground as most gangster films, although it was funnier than I expected and the ending was a surprise. It was cool to have an authentic Jamaican story and characters onscreen, as that it is rare, and I enjoyed the soundtrack of old school Jamaican songs. If this is Elba’s debut, I can’t wait to see what he does next.

In cinemas Friday 31st August 

SEE ALSO: Aml Ameen and Shantol Jackson sat down for Yardie Q&A – see highlights

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