One of the strongest and most consistently working black filmmakers for nearly 30 years has been Mario Van Peebles. His feature-film debut was 1991’s vital crime drama New Jack City, which he followed up with works like Posse, Panther, and Baadasssss!, which chronicled his father Melvin Van Peebles (played by Mario, who, as an actor, has about 100 credits to his name) making the landmark work of black cinema Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.
While continuing to direct features, Mario has also helmed some inspired television series, including “Sons of Anarchy,” “Damages,” “Boss,” “Empire,” “Being Mary Jane,” “Superstition,” “Bloodline,” and the recent “Roots” miniseries remake.
In Armed, his latest film as writer/director, Van Peebles stars as Chief, a former U.S. Marshal who struggles to put his life together after a raid goes horribly wrong. A former colleague comes back into his life with news that all of the surviving members of his unit from the raid are suffering from the symptoms of a mysterious illness and that a bigger conspiracy may be behind it all.
It’s safe to say the film pulls no punches as it tackles, among other things, the issue of gun violence in major cities, no-fly lists, and the easy access that known criminals still have to firearms. It also features special appearances by activist Van Jones and political commentator Roland Martin. Armed also stars Ryan Guzman, Columbus Short, Jemma Dallender, Laz Alonso, William Fichtner, and singer Dionne Warwick, and is set to open in theaters, on digital platforms and VOD on September 14.
Third Coast Review is offering its readers a chance to see an advance screening of Armed on Monday, August 27, at 8pm at the Music Box Theatre, to be followed by a Q&A with Mario Van Peeble and moderated by 3CR critic Steve Prokopy. Use the form here to reserve tickets for you and a guest.
Please note: your RSVP does not guarantee seating; screening is intentionally overbooked to ensure a full house. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis; please arrive early.