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Review: Crime drama ‘Honor Up’ revisits the ‘90s with uninspired results

Damon Dash, left, and Stacey Dash in the movie "Honor Up."
(Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

There’s a distinction to be made between old school and old hat, but it’s lost on “Honor Up,” a criminally inept throwback to ’90s urban gangsta movie posturing that plays like a stone-faced version of the 1996 Wayans brothers spoof, “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.”

Executive produced by Kanye West, the core message pertaining to the honor among thieves is played out in the mean streets of Harlem, where a crime ring’s top lieutenant (the film’s director, Damon Dash) has been dispatched to help handle a serious snitching issue within its ranks.

Just in case the viewer needs to get up to speed on the milieu, Dash thoughtfully throws in an onscreen glossary for words like rat (“a backstabbing snitch”) and “crackhead” (“a person who habitually smokes crack cocaine.”)

But most of the time he’s preoccupied with choreographing numerous shootings in slo-mo backed by operatic music, interspersed with brief dramatic exchanges and his character’s flat, incessant narration.

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Although he’s attempted to instill some street cred by casting rappers Cam’ron, Smoke DZA and Murda Mook, along with veteran actor Nicholas Turturro as a tough-guy police interrogator, Dash, who, along with Jay-Z was a former Roc-A-Fella Records principal, languidly lays it all down against the same tired beats.

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‘Honor Up’

Rating: R, for strong violence, drug use, pervasive language, and some sexual references

Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Playing: Laemmle NoHo, North Hollywood; also on VOD

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