Hurricane Streets

Marcus, whose mother is in prison, sells stolen merchandise to younger kids instead of attending summer school. As his birthday approaches, with the promise of a ticket to New Mexico (and escape from New York), he meets Melena, whose father has his reasons for not letting her go out after dark. Writer-director Morgan J. Freeman tells a relatively elegant story, whose occasional bumpy plotting is redeemed by the performances of Brendan Sexton III and Isidra Vega. The petty thefts of Marcus and his male friends don't reflect a simplistic relationship between peer pressure and crime, nor is his mother's incarceration made a convenient explanation for his behavior. As he becomes more attached to Melena and faces being disillusioned about his mother, one of his friends starts to hang with a tougher crowd, pushing several of the other boys to commit more serious crimes. Freeman, reluctant to let sympathetic characters be instrumental in a devastating event, relies too heavily on coincidence in creating a high-stakes predicament for the boys. But the downplayed resolution is a rarity.

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