(On Cable TV, December 2018) I take no real pleasure out of reporting that The Yards is much duller than I hoped for. Movie reviewers, contrarily to some perceptions, usually hope for the best—otherwise, why bother? At the same time, I’m favourably inclined to tales of protagonists fighting against corruption, stories where characters try to get themselves out of the criminal life, and semi-realistic dramas at an age where we’re saturated with superhero blockbusters. Then there’s the respectable real-life factor of the movie being based on events having involved writer/director James Grey’s father. But The Yards is not how to do it. Taking place in lower-class Queens, The Yards is about an ex-con stuck in-between small-time businessmen, institutionalized corruption, blue-collar labour and complex family drama. The result is not meant to feel good: Everything’s dark and dreary, characters get killed accidentally, lifelong friendships are destroyed and there’s little hope for the protagonist in the middle of those powerful corrupt forces. Boasting of a great cast but directed with little distinction, The Yards often doesn’t quite know what to do with its leads Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix and Charlize Theron, not to mention living legends such as James Caan, Ellen Burstyn and Faye Dunaway in supporting roles. The result is procedurally wearying, a description that can be applied surprisingly well to many of Gray’s later works. The Yards may have echoes of On the Waterfront somewhere in its working-class corruption DNA, but that’s not enough to make it feel alive.