A Review of 'The Stix': Drugs, Cash and Intrigue Make for a Heady Mix

A police narcotics division team tries to bring down a mob boss in rural Tennessee while he suspects secretive insurrection within his gang.

Jun 5, 2024 - 22:23
Jun 6, 2024 - 09:50
A Review of 'The Stix': Drugs, Cash and Intrigue Make for a Heady Mix

The Stix: Drugs, Cash and Intrigue Make for a Heady Mix

Cast: Darnail Lanton, Ebony Bivens, Vernell Woods, Bj Arnold, Antwon Burchett, Visionz2turnt, Jeff Haltom, Everett Anderson, John Dylan Atkins, Nichole Tate-Jackson, Mike Love, Ketrick “Jazz” Copeland, Steve Haltom, Jessica Taylor, Katrina Kelly, Wyndie Oliver, Tee Harris

Critic’s Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Director: Jaron Lockridge

Duration: 2 hours, 3 minutes, 

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller, Mystery

Language: English

Release: 2024

What’s it about? 

A narcotics division team of cops try to bring down a mob boss in rural Tennessee while he is facing secretive insurrection within his gang.

Review:

Drug dealers and anti-narcotics cops are up against each other in this pretty effective crime drama with more than enough mystery and suspense to keep viewers riveted. The convoluted but engaging plot might overstay its welcome, but a couple of big twists at the end make the patient viewing worthwhile. This near-epic film introduces us to several interesting characters across the hierarchy of a contraband-peddling gang and a four-person narcotics investigator division that is hot on its trail. Mistrust and suspicion abound in a neo-noir style of narrative where nothing is what it initially seems.

Business has started to go awry for drug-distributing kingpin Martell Jennings (Darnail Lanton), with a string of hand-offs ending in thievery or bloodshed. The usually cool and composed boss has now begun to suspect his subordinates, almost to the point of paranoia. Martell now can only trust his sister Monica (Ebony Bivens) and his second-in-command Buck (Vernell Woods). Yet, he is still dependent on DJ (Bj Arnold), Rico (Antwon Burchett) and Tez (Visionz2turnt) to carry out operations. Meanwhile, the cops seem to be getting wind of spots and houses where the transactions are scheduled to take place. This law-enforcement team comprises Lieutenant “LT” Chew (Jeff Haltom), Sgt. Eric Greer (Everett Anderson), Officer Hamilton (John Dylan Atkins) and lady cop Nicole Harris (Nichole Tate-Jackson).

It is clear that there is a joker in the Martell’s pack, leading him to grill the entire ring. Yet, it is baffling to determine who the traitor is since they all have associated with him in several successful capers. Meanwhile, there is a human drama subplot involving Officer Harris, a single mother who is struggling to balance demanding work and caring for her children while her current posting is on the line.

As the main story progresses, a chance encounter renders one of the cops with the upper hand. But will fate turn the tables on him or her? The film also explores the desire for illegal cash, ranging from sheer avarice to downright desperation. Slow going at first, the film gathers steam with stakes building and revelations unfolding. Fluctuating fortunes and switching loyalties play out in a genuinely surprising fashion. But this textured game of cat and mouse is perhaps populated with one character too many. 

Known primarily as a producer, Jaron Lockridge has made an auspicious debut as writer-director with this venture. The filmmaker’s dialogue is evidently an articulate form of southern African-American jive, which might get a little tricky for viewers unfamiliar with the slang-filled dialect. Still, the acting is mostly sincere with Lanton and Tate-Jackson’s performances worthy of praise. Meanwhile, the action scenes eschew sensationalism for restraint and subtlety, suppressing the need to splutter the screen with blood.  

The film’s serpentine plot progression, conspiring parties and jarring epiphanies almost boast a Shakespearean quality, although occasional sluggishness sets in to the narrative. Still, fans of the drug-crime genre may sense shades of such classics as Traffic (2000) and The Departed (2006) here. The conclusive message that this gritty film conveys is that those striving for heroism shouldn’t allow greed and temptation to trigger their downfall.  

Ronak Kotecha Senior Journalist and seasoned content creator with 18-years-experience at channels like Times Now, NewsX, Zoom and Radio City. Now, Rotten Tomatoes accredited global critic for the Times of India and BBC India Correspondent in Dubai. Talk show host at Talk100.3, tune in weekdays at 11 am on talk1003.ae