The mass consensus of film history tells you that you should love this film. “Groundbreaking Jamaican crime drama”, “huge success in 1972”, “seeped into popular culture”, yadda, yadda, yadda. Except – whisper it – it’s not as good as the hipster brigade make out.
So why’s it still scraping four stars, then? Simple. While the bulk of the film is a dreary, grainy story of a country lad (Jimmy Cliff) turning outlaw after being stitched up by evil big city types, it’s elevated to greatness by one thing and one thing only – an unmatchable reggaetastic soundtrack.
This disc fleshes out the earlier release with some additional extras – interviews with the late director Perry Henzell and star Cliff – but the new digital remastering means that tunes like ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’, ‘Rivers Of Babylon’, ‘The Harder They Come’ and ‘Many Rivers To Cross’ have never sounded better (the original soundtrack CD comes in the package). So who cares about the story? Just crank up the volume.