A bright young African-American boy attempts to survive life in the city by acting as an errand boy for a drug dealer in this thoughtful, sharply plotted drama. Known as Fresh, the young man must use his delivery jobs to support himself and his troubled sister, receiving nothing from his distant, alcoholic father but the occasional chess lesson.
His intelligence and quiet determination serve him well, as he wins the trust of his employer and settles into an unpleasant but survivable routine. Even this small comfort disappears, however, when Fresh accidentally witnesses the killing of a classmate and becomes a potential target himself.
Forced into an impossible situation, he puts his experience and strategic ability to good use, developing a tricky plan to protect his own life and defeat the killers. First-time director Boaz Yakin emphasizes restraint and realism, presenting potentially sensationalistic material with a minimum of violence and flash.
Instead, attention is placed on the strong, layered performances, particularly Sean Nelson as Fresh and Samuel L. Jackson as his embittered father. While some have questioned the film's treatment of inner city life, the film was generally acclaimed, thanks to its seriousness and complexity.