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An embittered, violent man (Laurence Fishburne) struggles to be righteous in the Watts section of Los Angeles. While preoccupied with his own unemployment, he counsels a boy tormented by a murder he failed to prevent, flushes out a neighborhood predator, and tries to patch up a friend’s marriage, even though he has feelings for his friend’s wife. The situations are all vividly etched, but the force that drives this HBO adaptation of Walter Mosley’s novel is the performance by Fishburne, who is also an executive producer. He dominates practically every scene in Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned with his coiled, emotional intensity, while also projecting an effortless, imposing toughness that has become virtually extinct in movies these days. B+

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