Paid in Full "Game Over (Part 2)"
Ace (Wood Harris) is a young man working in a dry cleaners in 1985 Harlem. His friend Mitch (Mekhi Phifer) sells cocaine, drives flashy cars, and has cash to burn. When Mitch goes to prison and a couple of coincidences leave Ace with a ball of cocaine in his pocket and customers waiting to buy, Ace decides to enter the drug-dealing business that he had previously shunned. He quickly rises to prominence as the cocaine kingpin of Harlem. When Mitch is released from prison, Ace brings him into the business as a partner, along with Mitch's volatile acquaintance from prison, Rico (Cam'ron). When violence erupts, Ace begins to question whether the money that his cocaine business has provided him is worth its cost.
At first look, Paid In Full seems to retread a lot of territory that has already been covered in a slew of films about inner-city drug-dealing since the 1980's. There are a couple of things that set this film apart, however, and make it worth seeing. This film emphasizes the characters' development and inner struggles more, and the trappings of the gangsta lifestyle less, than most films on the same topic. And Paid In Full is based on a true story: the story of AZ, Rich Porter, and Alpo, three young men who controlled the cocaine trade in Harlem in the mid-1980's. (Called Ace, Mitch, and Rico, respectively, in the film.) Azie Faison, who was AZ back then, cooperated with the film and wrote an early version of the screenplay. He has since criticized the film for glamorizing the gangsta lifestyle too much and not being a strong enough cautionary tale. I don't find that Paid In Full glamorizes the lifestyle all that much, but its criticism of gangsta life is not heavy-handed either. Perhaps it is better that the film did not moralize as much as it could have because that tends to alienate the audience. You will have to see it and judge for yourself.
Run Time: 1hr 38min
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