When I saw the trailer for this, I wasn't impressed, but I wanted to be fair and see this documentary of the real Avon Barksdale (his full name is Nathan Avon Barksdale with the nickname "Bodie").
I should have trusted my instincts.
I don't think I have the proper adjectives to fully describe what a deplorable piece this truly is. It may indeed be one of the worst things I've ever seen on film, and that's saying a lot, because I have truly seen some garbage in my years.
This movie is basically a feature-length glorification of this mass-murderer who feels exploited by David Simon and the crew of THE WIRE. Apparently, he believes that THE WIRE should be an accurate recounting of his life- as opposed to what it is, a very realistic- yet, fictional tale. Yes, the show has an Avon Barksdale- but THE WIRE's Avon Barksdale is created from a variety of criminal composites- mainly, Warren Boardley.
The entire first season Barksdale case also was inspired by the cases of Little Melvin Williams and Lamont 'Chin' Farmer. I'm sure that some instances may have been inspired by "Bodie" Barksdale, but he doesn't seem to understand that David Simon created a fictitious storyline for five years. So, excuse me if his whole angle of being misrepresented makes me just want to cry invisible tears.
In fact what offends me so much about this movie is that it is the polar opposite of what THE WIRE represents. THE WIRE is a very harsh show, but it's a very human, deep series that juggles a variety of socio-economic issues that America is afraid of talking about.
Whereas, THE AVON BARKSDALE STORY, is a cheap attempt to cash in on the popularity of the series. This film is just a giant glorification of drug dealing and murdering. And the re-enactment scenes are just atrocious. With the bad acting, directing and choice of music, it just fails on every level (the thing that offended me the most is the murder scenes having a ridiculous hip hop soundtrack with the chorus, "Time to die motherfucker, time to die..."). And call me crazy, but shouldn't re-enactment scenes be semi-realistic of that time and era?
These re-enactment scenes have people wearing modern clothes for scenes supposed to happen years ago- and the most laughable was a copy of THE WIRE season 4 prominently displayed on a desk in one flashback.
It's just so abysmal, and may feature the worst narration in cinema history. How bad you say? The narrator refers to Barksdale's crimes as "shenanigans".
Yeah, I would define shenanigans as harmless, practical fun. A mass-murdering sociopath who reigned terror on a city with his violent ways is pretty fucking far from any definition you may have of harmless.
Here was David Simon's response to the whole thing:
Reached via e-mail while on location in Europe, David Simon rejects any notion that Bodie Barksdale or Kenny Jackson or anyone for that matter is a model for any character in The Wire. "It seems that Mr. Jackson and Mr. Barksdale feel it was our obligation to tell an empirical truth about the history of the drug trade in Baltimore, or at least their version of that truth and further, to consult them about their version of that truth," Simon writes. "Given that The Wire is fictional, we are at a loss to respond intelligently. Specifically, Nathan Barksdale and Kenny Jackson do not exist in the world of The Wire. And indeed, if we are writing fiction, aren't we trying at points to avoid empirical truth entirely?"
Final verdict: THE WIRE is the greatest piece of art ever put on television and one of the finest things ever filmed. This Avon Barksdale DVD is trash and if you see it and pick up the DVD, wash your hands please- the stench may stay with you.