Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is a 90s hip hop geek and a Harvard hopeful. You can tell by the flat-top haircut, the pastel shirts, and the fact that the security guard at his school doesn’t check his bag when he sets off the metal detector. Malcolm lives in a part of Englewood, Calif., known as “The Bottoms” and his status as a nerd seems to both make him a target and keep him out of major trouble at the same time. Dope is a story about how easily, and sometimes involuntarily, a person can be swept away by the crime world in gang ridden East L.A.

‘Dope’ Review: Gangland L.A. With A Twist

Malcolm finds trouble when prompted by an alluring girl to a drug dealer’s birthday party. A gangster by the name of Dom shows some kindness to the three nerds trying to enter the club, and when a deal goes bad, uses Malcolm’s bag to get the drugs and his gun out of the club.

Malcolm and his friends discover the drugs and outrun pursuing criminals before he discovers that the only person who can get him into Harvard is the same person associated with Dom, and now, Malcolm must sell the drugs – or die.

But Malcolm isn’t the type to sell drugs on the street. As a computer nerd, he sells the drugs online with bitcoin utilizing its untraceable qualities.

Malcolm is also able to push the boundaries of technology to do what is necessary and stay out of trouble. His character is simultaneously anachronistic and progressive. Malcolm shows how some in the underclass still must get their hands dirty to get where they want to go. For him, getting away from what’s dragging him down is the greatest battle on the road to success.

Pictured: Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Shemeik Moore.

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