Suburban conservatives notwithstanding, there will be tears shed over this deep look at Chicago's grisliest streets and the benevolent soldiers who fight to keep them safe. The CeaseFire Violence Interrupters are an elite team of mostly ex-cons with one specific goal: to stop killings in the belly of this bloody beast. Hoop Dreams director Steve James and producer Alex Kotlowitz follow the peacemakers on this seemingly futile mission, connecting the interrupters' jaded backstories with the dangerous angel work they do now — all the while capturing the complications that ensue from such dramatic lifestyle changes.
>> READ: "Interview: Steve James goes back to Chicago" by Chris Faraone <<
The political piece is played well; Chicago authorities are exposed as reluctant to address these problems, leaving citizens and street workers as the last line of defense in the badlands. Likewise, the sociological roots of community disruption are well vetted. At 125 minutes, though, The Interrupters could have used more backstory to address why, like this film, Chicago's cycle of oppression has no end.