Once in the Life | Chicago Reader

Once in the Life

Holed up in an abandoned building after a drug deal goes horribly awry, three men test conflicting loyalties in a movie that's enervated by crime-story cliches, theatrical exposition, and its own earnestness. A pair of enforcers endanger the main characters and provide comic relief, and a kingpin who's great with kids raises the stakes. For variety, scenes set elsewhere are intercut with those set in the building. But the dramatic irony is in the central confrontation, and the flashbacks mostly reiterate the dialogue. Based on a play by writer-director Laurence Fishburne; with Fishburne, Titus Welliver, and Eamonn Walker. 110 min.

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