ONEFOUR: Against All Odds (2023)

ONEFOUR: Against All Odds (2023)

Australia’s police unwittingly take center stage in this shocking documentary following the titular drill rappers

7.7

Movie

Australia
English
Documentary, Music
2023
GABRIEL GASPARINATOS
Celly, J Emz, Lekks
83 min

TLDR

It’s rare for a celebrity documentary to be compelling even if you're unfamiliar with the subjects, but this one is, thanks to its damning exposure of the dodgy methods used by Australia’s unbelievably named "Strike Force Raptor" police squad.

What it's about

A documentary chronicling the rise of Australia’s first drill rappers and the extraordinary efforts of local police to end their careers.

The take

Documentaries about musicians — or anyone famous, for that matter — are often mythologizing puff pieces, essentially feature-length airings of PR material. But Against All Odds has more to it than flattery. It chronicles the rise of Australia’s first drill rappers, five young men of Samoan origin who soared to fame from their disadvantaged Sydney neighborhood after going viral and catching the eye of artists like the UK’s Skepta and Australia’s own The Kid Laroi. 

ONEFOUR’s rise from “the trenches” is compelling in itself — far more so than some of the dull origin stories that often pad out this kind of movie — but the documentary is given even more weight by its examination of the forces that sought to put out their fire: New South Wales police. ONEFOUR’s lyrics, which often reference violence, put them in the crossfires of a police tactical unit determined to, in one officer’s words, “make [ONEFOUR’s] life miserable until [they] stop what [they’re] doing.” Amazingly, the on-camera police interviews feature even more brazen admissions of the ways they “lawfully harass” ONEFOUR, a fact that makes this documentary an eye-opening portrait of both aggressive (and allegedly racist) policing and the resilience of the group in the face of it.

What stands out

The penultimate scene. One of the major threads in Against All Odds is ONEFOUR’s frustration at almost never being allowed to perform live, as the police allegedly even go so far as to intimidate venues into canceling the group’s shows. The documentary chronicles their repeatedly thwarted attempts to play for their fans, but there’s a moment towards the end that provides some relief to all that exasperation. Though it’s ultimately followed by a scene emphasizing that the police won’t be ramping down their targeted campaign against the group any time soon, this climactic moment of catharsis speaks to the group’s unquellable determination to keep going.

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