EW Staff
January 09, 1998 AT 05:00 AM EST

Hoodlum is as generic as its title. A compendium of every gangster-flick motif known to man, this lethargic portrait of the rise and fall of Harlem kingpin Ellsworth ”Bumpy” Johnson is distinguished only by the skin color of its run-of-the-mill assortment of ambitious hoods, a novelty that compensates for only so long. Laurence Fishburne’s performance as Bumpy is compelling enough—there’s a singularly electrifying scene in which he demands to know who the heck put almonds on his banana split—but everything surrounding him is strictly dullsville. It’s time to give this worn-out genre a long, long rest. C

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