Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy (2021) Review

It’s hard to review documentaries like this because you are looking at real peoples lives. And this one is a pretty hard hitter.

Certificate: 18

Director: Stanley Nelson

Genre: Documentary, Crime

Runtime: 89 Minutes

Language: English

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

In the 1980s a cheap and powerful new drug hit American shores.  Cocaine swept through inner city regions and sparked the so-called ‘War on Drugs.’  Fuelled by panic and racism, this crack down on Drugs was aimed at nearly exclusively Black communities and was a big catalyst towards the mass incarceration of Black people all across America.  This documentary looks at the spread of this drug, where it came from, and it’s impact on those Black communities.

Littered with heartfelt testimonies from ex-dealers, recovering addicts, journalists and other witnesses, this film does not take it easy on it’s audience.  It aims to educate and to shock us by revealing the extent and seriousness of the events it is discussing.  And I think it does both incredibly well.  Being both British and just a little too young to really remember the events of the 1980s, this was a whole learning experience for me.  You would think after the year that we have had, that I wouldn’t be shocked by the level of institutional racism that exists in the world, but today I learned that there is no bottom to this seemingly infinite pit of hatred towards people based on the colour of their skin.

Although the film is predominantly about Cocaine, and how it was marketed, and used and distributed etc. there is also a strong focus on race.  And how it was really the black communities that were worst effected by this drug and that while a vast majority of the drug users were middle class, white citizens, it was the Black communities that there blamed and punished for the drug problem. 

Told mostly through archive news footage and personal interviews, this is a really hard hitting and a pretty emotional way to tell this story.  Sure it through some stats and figures at you, but it the personal stories of the people involved, specially towards the end when they are discussing the consequences of their actions, that make this film so engaging and yet so horrifying to watch.  These stories get across the message the film is trying to portray better than any amount of facts and figures ever could.

A great watch for documentary livers, but it’s not exactly a cheery one.

‘Crack: Cocaine, Corruption and Conspiracy’ is streaming now on Netfix.

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