First Time Felon

April 24, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Epps emits a slow-burn intensity as a drug dealer doing time in prison ”boot camp.” But it’s Lindo’s seething turn, as the rare cinematic drill sergeant without a soft side, that gives this made-for-cable film its fire. Following a predictable path from jail to boot camp, then back to the mean streets, First Time Felon, based on real events, could easily have become a schematic message movie. Instead, the filmmakers focus on the rages, fears, and frustrations of inner-city life, finding in them a social drama of often brutal impact. B+

First Time Felon

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Delroy Lindo,
Rachel Ticotin
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First Time Felon

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