First We Take Brooklyn (2018) Review

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Grand Theft Auto IV the movie

First We Take Brooklyn (2018): 6 out of 10: This small-scale gangster film is the story of a recently released Israeli prisoner coming to Brooklyn to make his mark in the underworld.

The Good

The Good: Am I dreaming or is this basically Grand Theft Auto IV the movie? Hey, Niko, it’s me, Roman. Let’s go bowling. If you have played Grand Theft Auto IV, or seen basically any gangster film ever, you know the story. Our hero writer, director, and star Danny A. Abeckaser is released from prison in Isreal and sets up shop in Brooklyn where his uncle a small-time fence, His Uncle gets him to work with local small-time gangster who owns a bar. The bar owner in question is being pressured by the Russian mob led by Harvey Keitel and our hero takes the fight to them.

With a couple of exceptions listed below, this is a solid movie. The scale is small and the budget is low. No one actually takes Brooklyn, mind you. Honestly, they barely control a city block. The realism is refreshing, however, with the gangsters speaking their native language and the violence matching the scale of the conflict.

Danny A. Abeckaser deserves a lot of credit. This is a very solid debut film. The cast is decent with the stunning AnnaLynne McCord as a standout. Though bluntly, she looks a little out of place as a bartender in a smokey dive bar.

The Bad

The Bad: Those who want to see Harvey Keitel get his nails done are in luck. Those that wanted to see the guy featured on the cover do anything more than a glorified cameo will be disappointed.

The Ugly

The Ugly: There is one scene that just sticks in my craw. I will call it the restaurant date scene. It has Danny A. Abeckaser and AnnaLynne McCord eating at a high-end restaurant to celebrate Danny becoming a rich gangster during the last rap music montage. The lighting is all sorts of wrong giving the impression of a used car lot at night rather than a high-end dining establishment. The guy playing the waiter can barely say his lines and then AnnaLynne drops the line “OMG you really are a powerful gangster now. You just told that guy what to do, and he does it for you.” Um, AnnaLynne, that guy is a waiter, and that is what waiters do. Getting someone the “best” champagne is not the sign that your guy is a gangster. It is a sign that the server just made an upsell. It really is a bizarrely terrible scene in an otherwise competent film.

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: Enjoyable film that makes want to see more from both Danny A. Abeckaser and AnnaLynne McCord and relieved that Harvey Keitel kept his pants on.

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[…] Filmed for a hundred thousand dollars (Which honestly is ninety thousand more than I would have guessed) the movie takes place almost exclusively in an upscale Italian restaurant. (Which to the film’s credit actually looks like an actual restaurant unlike some other films I could mention cough “First We Take Brooklyn” cough.) […]