Sordid, slow and stupid, “True to the Game 2” is a drug-trade sequel to the 2017 thriller about falling in love with a drug dealer and paying the price.
An opening scene shoot-out and a trio of coordinated brawls in the finale are little compensation for the tedium in between.
Vivica A. Fox returns as Shoog, streetwise tough gangster who leads Bria (Iyana Halley) in a revenge hijacking of a drug shipment intended for drug boss Jerrell (Andra Fuller).
Poor Jerrell figured he was done with drug dealer Quadir’s minions after taking him out in the first film. He hadn’t counted on the dead drug dealer’s family.
The haul? “A meal ticket,” which is a cool million in cocaine-and-cash-speak.
“It’s gonna be an early Christmas in the (Philly) hood!” Shoog figures.
Gena (Erica Peeples) buried Quadir, finished grad school and is now a workaholic at a New York fashion webzine. She lives large — larger than any mere online mag writer could manage. Yes, she has drug money backing up her lifestyle.
But that bloody shootout that opens the picture has Jerrell and his minions — one played by model and former “Hot Felon” Jeremy Meeks — hunting high and low for those who hit him. That sends Saleem (Meeks) into Quadir’s memorial service and Jerrell off on a hunt for Gena, who decides to drive her Range Rover to California to do an assignment on an LA cannabis king.
That’ll eat up the two week vacation her borderline-harassing boss forces her to take.
The middle acts — full of asking around, intrigues, costume changes and little that animates the plot even if, in theory, scenes do advance it (sort of) — stop “2” dead in its tracks.
We lose track of the hardened anchor of all this, Fox, and dwell on the bar hopping, drinks, kidnappings, threats and what have you that it takes to get Jerrell and his man Saleem closer to their quarry.
Meeks lands one good thug line, announced to a prisoner he’s slapping around in the trunk of his ride.
“STOP! You gonna KILL me?”
“You in the trunk. You already dead.”
The only chuckles are in the memorial service, where Faith Evans sings and Quadir’s mom talks about what “a good boy, a good MAN” her son was.
He was a DRUG dealer. But sure.
All this violence — in New York, Philly and LA — has people in the center of the action “on edge.”
“It’s Philly. People are BORN on edge.”
Love V.A. Fox, but when you leave her out, you’re not being “True to the Game.”
The acting is uneven, the action not awful but not great either (some of the stage punches are obvious) and the ending a total cheat.
Aside from that…
MPA Rating: R for violence, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and drug content
Cast: Vivica A. Fox, Erica Peeples, Andra Fuller, Jeremy Meeks, Iyana Halley, Rotimi, Tamar Braxton
Credits. Directed by Jamal Hill, script by Preston A. Whitmore II, based on a novel by Teri Woods. An Imani Media Group release.
Running time: 1:33