Concrete Cowboy

What is supposed to be the final season of Stranger Things should be hitting Netflix later this year, but that talented cast should be fine once it is over. Case in point, Caleb McLaughlin teams up opposite one Idris Elba in a modern Western premiering on Netflix this weekend, entitled Concrete Cowboy.

McLaughlin played Cole, the son to Elba’s Harp, who had been taken away from him as a child by Cole’s mother, was getting into trouble in Detroit. His mother chose to send Cole to Philadelphia for the summer to be with his estranged father. Harp was a member of a community of cowboys in the Philadelphia area, maintaining stables filled with horses. Money is tight, but the group of people are dedicated to the lifestyle.

Cole, however, does not find this situation to be happy, as he immediately hooks up with an old friend Smush (Jharrel Jerome). Smush is involved with street wise trouble and is looking to bring Cole in with him. Harp insists that Cole stay away from Smush, but Cole plays both sides.

Meanwhile, Cole has bonded with a horse named Boo that is a horse no one can handle.

The film is a decent story and has some powerful acting. Caleb McLaughlin really carries his work load with some more established actors. He had to bring plenty of layers of performance here, as the realm of emotion spread across the spectrum. He does a great job and he is the heart of the film.

Idris Elba had some moments, but he stands out the most with his scenes with McLaughlin, as a father who is trying his best to provide his emotional support despite not being there for the majority of his son’s life. He had plenty of problems he faced and came out of it a stronger person.

The secondary cast is fine, but few of them are memorable. Method Man, Byron Bowers and Lorraine Toussaint are here as well.

Based on the novel Ghetto Cowboys by Greg Neri, Concrete Cowboys provides a fascinating look at the urban cowboys that exist in Philadelphia and the way their lives exist. When you add the strong father-son dynamic of the story, this movie has some very strong parts. It might be a tad overlong, but the performances keep it rolling.

3.5 stars

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