I rented this movie as part of my project of watching everything Tupac Shakur has ever been in, and I was sort of expecting it to be like all of his other films, which generally get described with "it's an ok movie, but Tupac is AMAZING." Bullet might be the only movie where 2pac does NOT manage to steal the show, which is quite a testament to this film, because 'Pac is, as always, fantastic. But no, great as he is, he remains resolutely minor this time, because the rest of the movie steals his spotlight. Bullet gets described as a "gritty urban drama", which I think of as a euphemism for "a mostly cliche flick where (mostly non-white) stock characters commit crimes and have some deep thoughts." What sets this movie apart is that its characters are really, really interesting. They're almost absurd, and yet somehow seem very genuine, and watching them interact is really intriguing.
Mickey Rourke (a total badass), aka Bullet has just gotten out of jail. He's an interesting guy, a thug with a strong moral code, a sense of weariness, and a severe heroin habit. His brother, played by Adrien Brody, is a somewhat wimpy artist who graffitis buildings and tells his family about Dali's genius over dinner. His other brother is a paranoid schizophrenic paramilitary conspiracy theorist kind of guy who regularly loses his false teeth. The parents have no idea what to do. Then there's 2pac, Bullet's arch-nemesis. Bullet stabbed his eye out in prison, so he's now rockin' an eyepatch and a seething desire for revenge.
The movie doesn't quite manage to build the conflict between 2pac and Rourke into the tense thrill you'd expect, because it gets distracted developing the other characters and creating a vivid portrait of their milieu. It's a setting dense with detail, and it really comes alive. You _care_ about these people. You have a sense of their inner worlds. You want to watch them move through the landscape and see how they interact with other characters. It's fascinating. Yet it manages to also tell a story, and a satisfying one at that.
A totally under-appreciated movie. Check it out - it deserves to be a classic.