Review: Chi-raq

Angela Bassett

His lifetime-achievement Oscar — awarded last month — was a reminder that Spike Lee makes movies that aren’t remotely like anybody else’s. Chi-Raq, for instance, is one enormously bizarro film.

Any filmmaker might make a study of inner-city violence, circa 2015. But only Lee would play it as an update of an ancient Greek comedy, with rhyming dialogue, song-and-dance sequences, and direct address to the audience. It’s also got Samuel L. Jackson as a natty onscreen narrator and Wesley Snipes as a one-eyed gang leader named Cyclops. But that should come as no surprise. In other words, Lee is really letting it rip here. And although in a variety of ways Chi-Raq is overbearing and stilted, the thing is so unusual you can’t help keeping your eyes glued to the screen.

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