In my column reviewing the marketing campaign for Chi-raq I wrote:
I think what strikes me most is that unlike almost all other movie marketing campaigns, this one has something to say. And it does so strongly and without apology. There is a message in the movie and that comes through loud and clear in the marketing. The message being sold here may or may not feel relevant to you right now – it should, though – but it’s a big part of the campaign. Here’s hoping the push does more to bring in people’s interest and attention.
Well the movie certainly had something to say. And while there are a few choices and moments that didn’t quite work for me, or which pulled me out of the drama of the story, overall it’s an astounding work of artistic achievement. Yes, it’s a little messy but Lee certainly had a vision for the movie and it’s refreshing to see someone reach for something interesting and substantive and maybe fall a little short than to not attempt an original piece of work at all.
What struck me though was how the movie took a sharp turn to the fantastical about two-thirds of the way through, something that’s not even hinted at in the campaign. It was sold as a mostly serious look at the violence that was plaguing Chicago (and other cities), even if the story was filled with more than a little black humor. But it doesn’t show at all how the story expands from the South Side of Chicago to the entire planet and how the implications of one single action have a snowball effect on society as a whole. At the end, though, it still comes down to the implications of one single act of violence, showing how that spirals through everyone’s lives.