Civil Brand | Chicago Reader

Civil Brand

Neema Barnette's muckraking drama about a prison uprising piles on the cliches about abused women inmates and their lecherous, vicious male guards. The facility is operated for profit, and everyone up the command chain gets an illegal cut from the unpaid labor, but the episodic and poorly conceived script by Joyce Renee Lewis and Preston Whitmore never examines this contemporary angle, sticking instead with the usual exploitation-movie outrages (brutal beating, sexual molestation, solitary confinement) that push the women over the edge. Barnette's visual style is anything but subtle, and the players (including Lisaraye, Da Brat, MC Lyte, and Mos Def) veer from the overripe to the catatonic. Only the hip-hop music track manages to strike the right note of miserable defiance. 90 min.

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