out of Five
Running time: 99
Less 8 Mile, more 8 Mile End, this is an enjoyable, if predictable drama, with a superb performance by Walters.
What's it all about?
Ashley Walters (from Bullet Boy) stars as DJ Danny Lewis, the leader of The Motion Crew, a group of South London rappers who are looking forward to besting their hated rivals the Hard Cash Crew in an upcoming rap battle (or rap off) in the prestigious Mic Masters competition. However, Danny complicates matters by falling for Carmen (Louise Rose), a singer who turns out to be related to the Hard Cash Crew.
Walters is superb, proving once again that he's one of Britain's most exciting young actors. There's also strong support from Chris Steward as Fable, Danny's best friend, who has a surprisingly moving subplot in which he tracks down his (white) mother, who gave him up for adoption.
Unsurprisingly, the music is excellent and the scenes of Danny and his crew jamming are exhilarating. Similarly, as with 8 Mile (the film's most obvious inspiration), the rap battle scenes are terrific and include quality slap-downs such as Let that go, you're in breach of your ASBO.
Unfortunately, not all the performances are as good as the leads.
Louise Rose, in particular, was clearly cast for her looks rather than her acting ability, whilst Patrick Regis doesn't strike quite the right note as Hard Cash Crew leader, Moneyman.
The film makes an admirable attempt to avoid the usual cliches for example, Moneyman desperately needs to win the contest to avoid being killed, meaning that we sympathise with him despite the fact that he's meant to be the bad guy. That said, the end result is nonetheless predictable and ultimately disappointing as a result.
The ending is both disappointing and cliched but Life & Lyrics is worth seeing for the music, the enjoyable script and Walters' performance.