At the start of “Battlefield America,” we see young, bold, and tough kids dancing at an underground dance battle. Think “You Got Serve” meets Disney’s “Ant farm”. I’ve never seen such talented young dancers dance. The opening scene gives way to a lot of great energy, but it resembles more of a music video, than that of an opening scene to a film.
The film’s story begins as we enter the daily life of the young and self centered Sean Lewis (Marques Houston). Shawn is a pompous prick of a man. He’s a hard working man, only if it benefits him. He’s just made partner at a prestigious LA Marketing firm. One night after a career celebratory party, he lands in jail. He’s is charged for failing to show up in court for a backlog of tickets. He’s is big trouble and enters a bargain to do community service.
On his first day of community service he learns two things, that he may have just met the love of his life Sarah Miller ( Mekia Cox), and that he may have entered a role as a mentor to various disenfranchised children. A role he did not expect at all.
Without giving the complete film away, I will say that it will make you think about the children in your life, and your commitment to mentorship. It also makes a great argument that tween films for minorities should be created, and seen more.
The film visibly presents its story as “troubled kids” versus “a troubled man”. It’s very clear from the films first few minutes that Shawn will be challenged by the kids featured in the opening act. Yet, the challenge will not be what you expect.
I was thrown off a few times by the explicit language spoken by the kids in the film, yet I will say that the honesty in the dialogue made me understand why such words were used.
My favorite scene in the film is when one of Shawn’s young mentees Eric ( Tristen M. Carter) is met by his father for the first time in a while. His father (Gary Anthony Sturgis) enters the room and begins to tell him how he feels about not being in his life for years. The boy then says, “It’s a little too late for that shit.” He then proceeds to say, “Nigga you can’t tell me what to do, you ain’t my Daddy…” That one scene was stark, honest, and I must admit, it felt that his lines were the voice of a sometimes voiceless generation of children without fathers.
Tristen M. Carter is a brilliant young actor to watch. He performed like an old little soul.
The motto of this film might be “Kids Matter.” After reviewing this project I realized that Chris Stokes has a knack for making films for this demographic. The lessons were predictable, but needed.
“Battlefield America” is rated PG-13
Opened on June 1st.VOD on September 13th. DVD/Blu-Ray on September 18th.
Directed by Chris Stokes; written by Marques Houston and Chris Stokes
Running time: 104 minutes