An antidote to the recent spoofery of DIY superheroes (Kick-Ass, Super), this documentary presents the reality of "ordinary" people trying to fight violence.
In Chicago, where gun crime is at epidemic levels, a project called "CeaseFire" is hard at work to combat street disputes that too often end in the death of a young person. Recruited from former gang-members who've done jail time, the project's modus operandi is to "interrupt" and mediate in civic grievances before they get out of hand – easier said than done, as one interrupter who gets shot in the back for his peacekeeping efforts will testify. From their courageous ranks, three practitioners come into focus – Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams, Eddie Bocanegra – as they put themselves on the line in a city that seems like a pressure-cooker of rage and resentment. One politician declares it "a war zone", with the National Guard rumoured to be moving in. The film, for all its worth, feels too small for its chaotic subject. Steve James (director of the basketball doc Hoop Dreams) outlines these deep social ills without once mentioning gun control, and while he features community leaders there's no dialogue with the police. No one could dispute this valiant and selfless approach to crimestopping; other cities have followed Chicago's lead. But "Blessed are the peacemakers" rings prettyhollow in a country where "the right to bear arms" extends to every hothead with a grudge.