Next Day Air

posted May 11, 2009 02:36:00 PM CDT | 9 comments

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After years of directing videos for a host of Hip Hop and R&B stars, Benny Boom takes the natural next step and turns to Hollywood with his debut feature, Next Day Air. The comedic heist plot revolves around a stoner delivery man (Donald Faison) who takes a very valuable package (cocaine; the box is full of cocaine) to the wrong apartment. This, of course, brings together a bunch of gangsters with guns to fight over it with the pot-addled everyman trapped in the middle trying not to get shot.

Directorially, Benny does himself a service by making an actual movie instead of a two-hour music video. The action sometimes gets a little muddled in the editing, he doesn’t fall into the common trap of bringing his fish-eyed lenses and neon lights into a place where they don’t belong. He takes his cues from Snatch more than Belly, so while it doesn’t have the ironic appeal that can come from a big, shiny spectacle, it actually has a chance of being taken seriously.

On the other side of the camera, the ensemble cast is made up of mostly recognizable talent that keeps the film suitably “urban” without crossing the line into embarrassing silliness. Air leans more towards comedy than action so the cast is built more for banter than fight scenes, but this does help increase the tension when the guns finally do come out. The plot and dialogue are a little on the obvious side, but the actors put enough effort into it to keep the whole thing moving well anyway.

Mos Def’s role is small but memorable while Mike Epps and Wood Harris provide the a good balance of comedy and drama as inept drug dealers who’s bad decisions drive the main plot. Newcomer Yasmin Deliz does an especially great job, going beyond her place as “obligatory hot girl” to steal most of the scenes she’s in. The list of characters is long, but to Boom’s credit, he keeps them all in order well enough that no one feels extra.

All in all, Next Day Air probably won’t end up being Benny Boom’s best work, but it is a good indication that he’s on the right track. It isn’t going to go down as a classic but it’s not a bad way to spend a Saturday night at the movies. Sure, there are some enticing big-budget, CGI enhanced blockbusters out right now, but let’s be honest—one of them is terrible and the other will be full of nerds.

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