Australian war reporter George Gittoes' new documentary throws you head-first into a swirling crucible of violence. More footage from Iraq, or Afghanistan? No, the battleground is Brownsville, Miami, a black urban ghetto where 14-year-olds tote automatic pistols, killing is commonplace, and kids on street corners entertain themselves for hours with freestyle raps. We follow four brothers, the eldest of whom - Elliot - is just back from the war in Iraq, as they struggle to survive in this frightening, unflinching and utterly compelling film.
Gittoes meets 23-year-old Elliot in Iraq while filming his 2004 documentary Soundtrack to War. Intrigued by the soldier's claim that his home is as dangerous as Baghdad, Gittoes follows Elliot back to the notorious Brownsville – or 'Brown Sub' - neighbourhood in Miami. What follows is an eye-opening look at life as it is lived just a few miles from Disneyland, Florida. Elliot encounters hostility for his stint at war, younger brother Marc becomes embroiled in a murderous feud and 14-year-old Denzel raps about hustlers, revenge killings, and drug deals. You've heard the cartoon version via 50 Cent, but it won't prepare you for the real thing.
"A GRIM BUT REAL-LIFE GALLERY"
All life is here, and it's not all grim. Out of violence, Brown Sub's kids forge an intensely creative culture of street poetry that, we see, is really a kind of spiritual solace. But beneath the real-life gallery of gangsters, dealers, and wannabe rap stars here lies political dynamite: if Iraq makes CNN nightly, how come Florida turns a blind eye to Brown Sub? Soon enough, events for our three brothers take a tragic turn. After Rampage you'll be persuaded: war-zones really do exist inside US borders.