Review: Details sharp in gangster tale 'Yardie'

Idris Elba directs the story of a Jamaican boy seeking vengeance in London

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Aml Ameen in "Yardie."

D is a child growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, with a theme song to match his upbeat mood: "My name is D, D for Dennis/ I don't cause trouble and I cause no menace." 

Life has other things in store for D in "Yardie," a conventional crime tale that follows the youngster to London as he gets caught up in a life of drugs, money and revenge. 

Idris Elba directs this '70s and '80s set story, which is set into motion when young D (Antwayne Eccleston) watches as his older brother Jerry Dread (Everaldo Creary) is gunned down at a peace rally that's set to unite the warring Tappa and Spicer gangs in West Kingston.

Years later, D (now played by Aml Ameen) is working for King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd), head of the Spicer gang, who sends him to London to deliver a package of cocaine to British gangster Rico (Stephen Graham). 

D doesn't like the way the deal is going down and decides to flee with the coke, which he uses to help fund a local music crew. Along the way, he reunites with Yvonne (Shantol Jackson), his childhood sweetheart, with whom he attempts to go straight. But he's pulled back into the gangster life when he spots the man who killed his brother and seeks vengeance. 

"Yardie," penned by Brock Norman Brock and Martin Stellman and adapted from the novel by Victor Headley, has an ear for dialect and the Jamaican Patois and Cockney accents of its principals, which is thankfully subtitled for viewers. As the lead, Ameen is a strong presence, and Elba specifies the local details of a time-tested story. While "Yardie" hits familiar beats, viewers get the sense they're on Elba's turf.



Not rated: Language, violence, sexual situations, drug content

Running time: 102 minutes