Review by Sean Boelman
Typically, a two-year gap between a film’s festival debut and its release is not a good sign, and while Gully can be given some slack for the COVID-19 pandemic, this still feels like it’s being dumped into release. Aggressively styled and lacking in subtlety, this movie is a waste of talent from all involved.
The film follows three troubled teens whose lives begin to spiral out of control as they commit crimes in the streets of Los Angeles. Marcus J. Guillory’s script is stuck somewhere between being a sprawling moden epic following Los Angelino youth and a gritty crime drama, the problem here is that the movie simply doesn’t know what it wants to be.
It often feels like the film was cut to hell, as there are seemingly entire portions of the story omitted. We jump from one end of the story to another, and new plot elements are introduced as if the audience was supposed to know about them the whole time even though they are just suddenly being revealed.
There are definitely some deeper themes in this movie that were worth exploring, but Guillory writes about them in a way that lacks insight and nuance. There are a lot of things to say about racial injustice in this country, but the empty poeticism that the film is filled with certainly isn’t the most effective way to get these points across.
The thing in the movie that is most lacking here is character development. For a film that is supposed to be about the real issues that youth face growing up in rough neighborhoods, the dynamic between the three leads isn’t believable. And when it comes to the supporting characters, they have basically no motivation.
Perhaps most distracting about the movie, though, is its style. Director Nabil Elderkin is previously known mostly for his work in music videos, and while that approach can often translate to film somewhat well, it doesn’t fit with a serious drama about these issues. And some of the effects look outright bad.
The fact that the cast is so strong just adds insult to injury here. Charlie Plummer, Jacob Latimore, and Kelvin Harrison Jr. are all very talented, but they aren’t given a chance to impress here because the script is so bad it couldn’t possibly have been delivered well. The supporting cast is full of recognizable people as well, including Terrence Howard, John Corbett, and more, but their performances are even worse.
Gully is a movie that sounds like it could be very interesting on paper, but in execution, it’s an absolute and total dud. If it weren’t for Music, this would easily be the most offensively bad movie of the year.
Gully hits theaters on June 4 and VOD on June 8.