Taking aim at American society’s seriously broken criminal justice system, Iroc Daniels’ well-intentioned multi-character drama “The System” compensates in compassion for what it lacks in a more accomplished delivery.
It’s quite evident from the film’s outset that the fateful trajectories carrying committed African American family man Nate (Reginald Kennedy) and Sam (Owen Conway), an adulterous white cop with a serious case of PTSD, will reach a violent impasse.
Tragedy ultimately hits close to home when Sam’s itchy trigger finger is implicated in the shooting death of Nate’s 13-year-old deaf son (Prince DeBoskie). When justice subsequently doesn’t prevail, leaving Sam unaccountable for his actions, the grieving Nate opts to take the law into his own hands.
Rather than delivering a standard-issue vengeance piece, Phoenix-based hip-hop producer-turned-filmmaker Daniels instead has a more ambitious approach in mind, taking his cue from 2004’s “Crash,” with its’ intersecting character story lines and themes of race and redemption.
But just like that Oscar-winning morality tale, the life lessons offered in “The System” suffer from a lack of directorial dexterity that would have given both the story and the cast some much-needed breathing room.
While the sleek-looking production has been injected with live music and spoken-word performances designed to underscore its can’t-we-all-just-get-along plea for tolerance and equality, those caught up in “The System” feel more like part of a schematic than authentic, relatable human beings.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Glendale