Road Rash Reviews

Black Flies (A.K.A. Asphalt City) Prime Video Review****-

Cert 18 | 125 mins | 2023

4 Star

Angels and devils in the Big Apple.

Based on the 2008 novel Black Flies by Shannon Burke (Safelight, Into the Savage Country) who has had first-hand experience on the streets of New York and brought to vicious light by director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire (Johnny Mad Dog, A Prayer Before Dawn), we explore New York City at night through the eyes of those that can save lives, the FDNY. All set after the memory of 9/11.

It all starts with a cacophony of sounds and lights (lots of flashing lights throughout this film) as the Fire Department of New York City arrive at a gangland shooting. Rookie paramedic Ollie Cross (Tye Sheridan, Ready Player One, X-Men: Apocalypse) looks like a rabbit in the headlights as he is shouted instructions. But his partner Lafontaine (Michael Pitt, Seven Psychopaths, I Origins) says he can’t work on this victim with a rookie. With a life to save, he calls in grizzled veteran paramedic Gene Rutkovsky (Sean Penn, Mystic River, 21 Grams, State of Grace, The Game).

We’re not cops, we’re here to help.

Ollie and Gene jump in the back of the ambulance as it sets off toward the hospital. They work on saving the victims’ life, but due to his injuries he passes away in the back of the ambulance.

They almost never make it.

Ollie is doing the paramedics so that he can pass his exams to become a medical student, and thus he spends his money on a flop house, sharing rooms with a Chinese couple in Chinatown to save money. He feels the strain of the job, and has to release some pent-up frustration, so he heads to a nightclub where he can dance the night away. Here, he meets Clara (Raquel Nave, Bizarre, Bizarre Again) and they both work out the kinks in their systems.

How does it feel, seeing someone die?

Ollie finds himself in ‘4-5 Young’, teamed up with Gene, and they come across all walks of life in the Big Apple and the thing they all have in common is that they hate being interfered with, even if they are trying to save your life.

It’s us, the dead and the dying, it’s the job.

There is a very good reason why this is called Black Flies, but you’ll have to watch it to find out. Black Flies is a dark look into the lives, stresses and strains of the emergency services, and our two leads make a great team at showing how hard it is to get up and go out into the seething underbelly of New York, and try and make sure others can get up tomorrow morning. It’s harsh, raw and revealing.

Is the melting pot getting just a little too hot? Black Flies.

Black Flies streaming on Prime Video, 19 April



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DirectorJean-Stéphane Sauvaire
GenreDrama, Thriller
StarringSean Penn, Tye Sheridan, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Michael Pitt, Katherine Waterston
Category: Amazon Prime, Review