Gangster movies have existed since the 1920s and the genre has been extremely popular and influential to the point where it has become a classic genre in all major film industries. From the prohibition-era mobsters of the silent film era to the criminal protagonists of the modern day gangster movie, the genre has always been a source of fascination and artistic fascination. This article offers an overview of the 2009 hood gangster movie, exploring the background, genre conventions, characters, themes and significance of the film.
2009 was a banner year for gangster movies. Directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan made their mark on the genre with films such as ‘Inglourious Basterds’, ‘The Departed’, and ‘The Dark Knight’ respectively. While these films are recognized as greats, there are some lesser known films that are just as noteworthy. ‘Notorious’, ‘Public Enemies’, and ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ all released in 2009 and each has its own distinct flavor.
The hood gangster movie of 2009 follows in the footsteps of those before it. These films typically focus on an anti-hero, someone who breaks the law in order to achieve their ends. This can take the form of a small-time criminal, named Trick Daddy (Javier Bardem) in Notorious, or a large-scale criminal mastermind, as seen in The Dark Knight. While each protagonist has a valid reason for their crimes, they come with a severe cost: alienation and even death. In other words, these films often balance the desire of the anti-hero to gain something for themselves without completely disregarding the cost for society.
Characterization is key in the hood gangster genre, whether it is a sympathetic protagonist or an intimidating antagonist. Most of these films revolve around a single protagonist, like a Tony Montana or a Frank Costello. The character will usually have a particular set of skills or a backstory that helps explain their approach to crime. Audiences will typically be taken on a journey into a world of crime and morality as characters maneuver their way through an often violent and unpredictable landscape. Other characters such as family members, police officers, love interests or criminals in the hood are used to provide tension and/or emotional leverage for the protagonist.
Themes of fate and redemption are often present in hood gangster films. Characters often try to break away from the system and make their own destiny, often in a misguided fashion. It is no surprise then that the films often end in tragedy. However, this isn’t always the case; films like The Departed and Law Abiding Citizen both ended with characters who managed to make different choices for their lives. This provides a possible outlet for viewers to hope for a better future or makes them question their own choices.
Above all, 2009 hood gangster movies are an important representation of current society as a whole. Both the choices of the protagonists and the reactions of the supporting characters serve to reflect the state of the world today. They provide a visceral thrill and an emotional investment, leaving viewers with a strong impression of their personal beliefs and experiences. Hood gangster movies are a powerful form of art and entertainment, and 2009 was an incredible year for them.
The style of the 2009 hood gangster movie is an interesting mix of conventions from different genres. The films often incorporate elements of the crime drama, making use of tropes like long drivers on dark roads, elaborate heists, surveillance, interrogations and violence. Gangsters will often also utilize certain technologies as part of their criminal activities, such as hacking or illegal streaming. The slow-burn suspense of the crime genre paired with the slickness of the gangster genre leads to a unique viewing experience.
Stylistically, most of the films from the 2009 hood gangster movie era adhere to a certain aesthetic. The cinematography often conveys the dramatic nature of the film through its structure and lighting. Shots may focus on the faces of characters while they contemplate their actions and environments will often be oppressively drab, emphasizing the grey morality of their actions. Color also plays a part in setting the tone of the film. In The Dark Knight, for example, the bright fluorescent lighting contrasted with the dark Gotham cityscapes was a major part of the aesthetic appeal of the film.
The music from the hood gangster movies of 2009 is also distinct and often establishes and sets the tone for the film. In Public Enemies, for example, the use of roaring 20’s gangster music establishes the time period that the movie is set in. In other films, the soundtracks will often represent the chaos and excitement involved with criminal activity, such as the various gunshots, car chases and explosions that are often found in these films.
Although they often have darker undertones and are often critical of contemporary society, 2009 hood gangster movies are often as much comedy as they are drama. Dark irony and genre parody are common tools used to satirize the action and point out the inconsistencies of the criminal activities witnessed in the film. In ‘Notorious’, for example, a scene parodies the iconic bank heist sequence from the 1971 film ‘The French Connection’, complete with a B-list actor playing the role of a tough mob boss.
The influence of postmodernism is also evident in these films, as the directors often use irony and humor to comment on the action that isn’t explicitly revealed. When Trick Daddy is being driven to his execution in Notorious, for example, the “man in the van” playing the role of an executioner starts singing a classic song from the 1960’s. This is a sly comment on the inevitable end result of his dangerous life, and serves as a poignant reminder of his mortality.
Lastly, the hood gangster genre is often satirized in humorous ways, with exaggerated characters, violence and general absurdity being commonplace. In the 2009 film ‘Law Abiding Citizen’, one particular character stands out as an obvious parody of the classic hood gangster archetype. This is used to contrast the more serious themes of the film, going a step further by making the audience question their own prejudices.
The hood gangster movie of 2009 is full of symbolism, often representing the chaos that the characters must face in order to survive. Subdued colors and grim environments often represent the futility of their situation, as the protagonists confront overwhelming obstacles. In addition, the films often explore the idea of fate versus free will, with the characters often destined to a violent and deadly future.
Symbolism also helps portray characters in more complex ways. In Notorious, the spitting cobras in Trick Daddy’s home serve as a metaphor for Trick Daddy himself. Just as the cobras are wild and deadly, so too is Trick Daddy, a symbol of urban Wild West. Other films might employ streetscapes or bars as obvious references to the gangster lifestyle, encapsulating the struggle between freedom and obligation. Many of these films also hint at the hope of redemption, as characters strive to escape their fate and create a new life for themselves.
Symbols are also often used to highlight the flawed and misguided paths taken by the protagonists. In The Departed, a crucifix hangs from the walls of Frank Costello’s office, as a symbol of his misguided sense of justice and morality. This is further emphasized in the end, as it is revealed that the he had killed a priest many years earlier. This brings his God-like façade crashing down and leaves him exposed, showing the audience the true extent of his heinous actions.
The 2009 hood gangster movie era left an indelible mark on film history. These movies are now iconic, embodying the collective energy of their time. The films combined classic hood gangster tropes with postmodern sensibilities, creating something that was both original and timeless. They explored themes of fate and despair in a very real way, but also managed to capture the excitement of a criminal lifestyle. The films of the era were also very influential, later inspiring films like John Wick and Baby Driver.
The era also put some of the most iconic actors on the map. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Marlon Brando and Javier Bardem all starred in hood gangster films during this period, becoming symbols of the genre for a generation. Many of these actors would later become inextricably linked with the hood gangster genre, cementing the genre’s place in popular culture.
In conclusion, the 2009 hood gangster movie era was a time of great creativity and innovation. Directors pushed the boundaries of the genre, while actors injected life into the characters they portrayed. These films laid the groundwork for a new wave of crime films and gave viewers an exciting and thrilling ride. 2009 hood gangster movies are now considered classics and are a testament to the power of film.