Set in '70s Kingston and '80s Hackney, Yardie centres on the life of a young Jamaican man named D (Aml Ameen), who has never fully recovered from the murder, committed during his childhood, of his older brother Jerry Dread (Everaldo Creary). D grows up under the wing of a Kingston Don and music producer named King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd). Fox dispatches him to London, where he reconnects with his childhood sweetheart, Yvonne (Shantol Jackson), and his daughter who he's not seen since she was a baby. He also hooks up with a soundclash crew, called High Noon. But before he can be convinced to abandon his life of crime and follow "the righteous path", he encounters the man who shot his brother 10 years earlier, and embarks on a bloody, explosive quest for retribution - a quest which brings him into conflict with vicious London gangster Rico (Stephen Graham).


Adapted from a novel by Victor Headley, Yardie marks Idris Elbas’s directorial debut and, given the status that he has as an actor, it comes with high expectations.

Sad as it is to say Elba’s first film is a hard watch. Part of the reason is that the thick Jamaican accents make a lot of the dialogue hard to make out. This makes for a story that’s hard to follow and it’s not helped by nearly every character being totally unlikable. Stephen Graham, who is normally excellent, plays Rico, a Jamaican London gangster, his performance feels as if it’s a throwback to darker days when black characters were played, badly, by white actors. What Elba was thinking with this piece of casting is anyone’s guess.

The 70’s set direction is impressive as Elba misses none of the decade’s distinctive character.

Yardie is a depressing hard to watch movie that makes you feel that if it had been told by a more experienced director it might have been a much better watch than it is.

A missed opportunity.

Yardie (15)

1h 42m

Director: Idris Elba
Starring: Amel Ameen, Shantol Jackson, Calvin Demba, Stephen Graham

UK Release: Friday 31st August 2018

Yardie - Idris Elba Interview Leading Star Ami Ameen

Yardie - Director Idris Elba Featurette