Belly is easily one of the worst films of 1998. Rappers NAS and DMX are charismatic performers with limited acting ability, who are entrusted to deliver un-intelligible dialogue amid a plot that pilfers from numerous other movies. Music video director Hype Williams makes his feature debut with this visually arresting and incomprehensible film. There are beautiful images and striking lighting design, but this movie is a mess of clichés, narrative incoherence, and social commentary.
Tommy (DMX) and Sincere (NAS) are childhood friends grown into full-blown criminals. Their bond is tested when Tommy decides to get involved dealing a new type of heroin that puts him under close surveillance by federal authorities and rival dealers on the street. Things get out-of-hand during a trip to a trap house in Omaha which leaves Tommy on the run and Sincere developing a conscious. The two men experience a spiritual awakening that will change the seemingly pre-destined course of their respective lives.
After spending the previous 85 minutes watching these violent men commit murder, sell drugs and ruin lives, the story then tries to condemn the characters’ actions and lifestyles with an uplifting sermon from a Muslim leader. It’s laughable. Not to be outdone by the fact that the Sincere character moves his family to Africa and his final lines describe the beauty of the continent and people, but instead of showing us any footage of the country the director decides to show us New York’s Time Square on New Year’s Eve. Belly is an amateurish mess with zero entertainment value and even less worth as a piece of enlightened socially conscious filmmaking. Dodge this bullet at all costs.
Director: Hype Williams
Stars: Nas, DMX, Taral Hicks, Method Man