Inspired by true events from the 1950s, two African American businessmen hire a white man to pose as the face of their real estate empire, during a period of major segregation. As they start becoming successful in helping other minorities achieve the American dream, it draws attention from the federal government, putting their plans in jeopardy.
It is very likely that most audience members who see this movie will think of it as nothing more than an Oscar Bait-y drama about racism, that they have already watched. That is certainly what I thought this would be, during the opening few minutes. Thankfully, this movie does not follow the troupes of the similar dramas that came before it, instead offering an entertaining story, along with some commentary on standing up for yourself. The story takes a while to hook you, but it is only to explore the background of the main protagonist, Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie).
It is really in the second act where I found myself more invested, as something happens that could end his plans before they begin. After that, Garrett develops a partnership with Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson) and hires co-worker Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult) to represent them and their business. The tension builds from there, as Steiner is trained to be a wealthy investor, something he must learn quickly, as their potential clients will take notice otherwise. Several plot twists happen along the way, that also add to the enjoyment and impact of the climax. Despite these setbacks, Garrett turns them into the strength needed to help others like him prosper, during a highly segregated time.
Unfortunately, every film has issues, and this one is no exception. There’s a few predictable elements scattered around, the passage of time can be confusing, and the script is very exposition heavy. That last part ultimately ends up weighing down the financial dealings (a core part of the story) which assumes we are to instantly understand the goals of the main characters, from time to time. There is still enough to hold the audience’s attention, as the interesting narrative comes with a fair amount of humor, a vibrant score and production design that makes you wonder if you are viewing the events first hand. In the end, this is not the best drama I have seen in a while, but if the premise and actors involved interest you even slightly, it’s an enjoyable enough time, no matter your position on movies similar to it.