With a cruel, keen edge, this taut social drama slices deeply into Thatcher's England to expose a grim underbelly of racism, cynicism and despair. Reuben James is a black paratrooper who has spent the last nine years serving in the British army and who finally gets discharged to return to his home in South London.
There he discovers that the residents have been ravaged by the poverty of the decade and many have turned to crime to survive, while others do their best in the midst of crushing hopelessness to find order and meaning. He too fights the same battles as he struggles to find work.
He is disillusioned to discover that to racist employers, his sterling service record is almost worthless. The poor veteran suffers a final blow when he learns that because he was born on the common-wealth island of St. Lucia, and because the laws have suddenly changed, he is no longer considered a British citizen.
Now he must quickly make a decision about the rest of his life. Meanwhile, back in the neighborhood, tempers fray, frustration mounts and violence ensues.