Directed by Saul Dibb, starring Ashley Walters, Luke Fraser, Claire Perkins and Leon Black.
19-year-old Ricky (Walters) has just been released from prison. Returning to the streets, friends and problems he left behind, he finds the consequences of his unsuccessful struggle to stay trouble free impacting on the lives of those around him.
Idolised by his younger brother Curtis (Fraser), it seems only Ricky is oblivious to the dead end he is unwittingly leading his brother into. Now back in North London, and in the company of his childhood best friend Wisdom (Black), Ricky finds the repercussions of a street confrontation blocking all routes away from the life he knows.
The realities of life on the street are at all times contrasted with those of the family, and it is in the unflinching depiction of domestic life that this movie really shines. Claire Perkins gives an excellent, sympathetic performance as a mother trying to protect her younger son from the influence of his brother. Her relationship with Ricky, and her ability to reconcile her feelings towards a son she both loves and fears, proving one of the most pleasingly subtle aspects of the film.
Luke Fraser is also superb as the naïve younger brother, unblinkingly accepting the guns and crime that surround him, even as he is drawn in by their allure.
The realisation that a criminal life is unavoidable is a very real problem for Ricky, and a very familiar one for the audience. Countless movie ex-cons have struggled desperately not to re-offend only to arrive at the same place onscreen. It is a well-trodden path that is neither straight nor narrow and the predictability with which 'Bullet Boy' evolves is slightly disappointing.
An assured debut from director Saul Dibb, he has populated an admittedly familiar storyline with vibrant characters whose authenticity is never in question. However, the former documentary maker's commitment to a gritty, and above all honest, depiction of their lives means the film has little room to stray from the road to inevitability. Realism dictates that this story will end exactly the way you think it will.