Let's begin with the simple belief that all movies are good, except for the bad parts. Some times these bad parts are trivial and inconsequential, and don't really get in the way of enjoying a movie. Some times, however, the bad parts are big and cumbersome, and nearly impossible to overlook because they are so...well...big...and cumbersome. It's when the bad parts of a movie become so unwieldy that everything that is good about a movie--and remember, all movies are good, except for the bad parts--actually comes close to being bad. And that's kind of what's going on with Luv, an otherwise good movie that suffers from a single bad part. Unfortunately, that bad part is the story itself.
Rapper-turned-actor Common stars as Vincent, an ex-convict recently released from prison, looking to go on the straight and narrow by opening his own restaurant/nightclub. Vincent is idolized by his 11-year-old nephew, Woody (Michael Rainey, Jr.), a quiet kid trying to cope with life without either of his parents. While driving Woody to school, Vincent decides the boy needs a different type of schooling. He wants to teach the young boy how to be a man, and so Vincent and takes Woody with him on his quest to get the money he needs to open his restaurant. Unfortunately, Vincent is a former gangster, and his old employee, Mr. Fish (Dennis Haysbert), no longer trusts the reformed criminal, and decides to put a hit on Vincent. Things go from bad to worse, as Vincent takes Woody along for a ride that includes dope dealing and murder, and the hackneyed and contrived script delivers one ridiculous stereotype after another as the by-the-numbers plot lumbers along to the inevitable--and preposterous--ending that feels as if it is arriving about five hours too late.
Co-written and directed by Sheldon Candis, Luv comes across like it wants to be something akin to an urban version of director Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive. Unfortunately, the screenplay for Luv is terrible. Candis's direction is fine, as is Gavin Kelly's cinematography, and even the performances by the cast is within acceptable levels. But it all comes back to the script, which is nothing but a predicable mess of tired clichés that embraces a seemingly never-ending 'hood stereotypes that were old and over-used by the end of the 1990s. And to be sure, there is no getting around this screenplay. Even if you were to watch the movie with the sound off, the stink of the story still permeates every scene.