Always Outnumbered (TV Movie 1998) Poster

(1998 TV Movie)

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8/10
A superior film with a meaningful message
snake7724 June 2001
This can be a tough video to find, but when I finally did it turned out to be well worth the effort. This is a great film, it rates right up with "Citizen X" as one of the best made for HBO movies. Laurence Fishburne is terrific as Socrates Fortlow, an ex-con living in inner L.A. and attempting to carve a new life for himself while just barely getting by. Fishburne gives the character real grit, anger, and pride, but most of all he shows us a man who is committed to living life honorably after making some very serious mistakes. You can feel the frustration of a man who is trying to live right in a world that is seldom fair, but he won't give in to the temptation to make an easy buck or to compromise his principles. The film is presented as a series of intertwining stories about the people in Fortlow's life, and the other actors in the film are superb - there is never a moment that doesn't feel real. The stories all have meaning - love, prejudice, empathy, sorrow, friendship, honor and death. It's not often that a film says this much without seeming to, and it's not often you see a film this moving. If your video store doesn't have it, be like Socrates and just keep coming back and protesting loudly until they do.
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9/10
Very insightful and Rewarding
jtfsouth23 July 2000
This is what I considered one on the more underrated films in our time.It doesn't happen very often where you actually take some type of a lesson from a film. This one was able to do just that.



This wasn't a movie about an angry black man who felt life owed him anything, it was just the opposite. It was about a man DOING something with his life after spending time in prison. Rather than being a drain on society, he worked for his money, and damn hard I must say. It didn't matter what he did to earn it, just as long as it was legal. He also was able to help a friend fill a void, another end his pain and help a child who needed guidance.



I know this movie was only fiction, but I wish our society were filled with people like Socrates.
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Timeless and classic; a hidden gem
maestro6072 June 2004
I won't go into details of the storyline, as you can read that from other reviews. I will say that this is one of the best dramatic films I've seen that most haven't even heard of. It is a very moving story with many underlying plots that come together well and each stand out to be noticed. The acting was Grade A from everyone casted, the messages (and there were many) are relevant and stirring, and there just aren't enough good things to say about this film. I think that Larry Fishburne is one of our better black actors, I believe better than Denzel based on the variety of characters that Fishburne has played over the years, and this may have been his best work. His character and his acting is that strong in this film. If you've seen the movie "Pitch Black" with Vin Diesel (now that they've made a sequel 4 years later), you know that it was a slow, kind of boring movie, but Vin played his character Riddick with such coolness that his role made the flick. Fishburne does the same outstanding performance, but unlike Pitch Black, everything else about Outnumbered was strong in supporting the lead character. An excellent film that I would highly recommend.
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Positive comments about "Always Outnumbered"
MWRuger24 July 2000
I came across this movie late one Sunday on HBO. I only got to see the last hour of it, but I was astounded by how moving it was. I tracked down the showtime and made time to watch it.

This film is about Laurence Fishburne ‘s attempt to find a place in the society that he left when he committed a terrible crime. There is a slight tinge of Black angst, but that isn't the main point. He could be any man, trying to find a new home and dealing with his past. It takes a long time before people come to accept Mr. Fortlow for what he is, a man in the true sense of the word.

He teaches us all a lesson in what it should be like to be a man. Be honest and true to yourself. Deal fairly with others. Do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. Simple to say, hard to do when you are always outnumbered
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10/10
One of the best
mcneilfarley28 April 2006
Great cast and great story. Characters are multi-faceted instead of one-dimensional. No clichés and not stereotypical. One of my favorites of Laurence Fishbourne's roles as Socrates Furtlow - a man who's had challenges but still remains strong. I'm surprised that I really like and believe Natalie Cole's performance - she's at her best (in acting department). Cicely Tyson and Bill Cobb are too real - you know a senior citizen just like them, don't you? A movie for my collection - worth seeing again and again and again. I'm a real fan of black movies that show the community - real but with it's positive attributes as well as its challenges - and how folks coming together - just being neighborly - can make a difference in the community. Should be a classic.
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7/10
A Good Man
claudio_carvalho25 March 2016
In Los Angeles, the hot-tempered collector of cans Socrates "Socco" Fortlow (Laurence Fishburne) is an ex-con that has served a long sentence for killing a man and a woman. Now he is trying to build a new life and find a job. However he is discriminated against his age, color and background. His only friend is Right Burke (Bill Cobbs), who is dying of cancer. He also helps a young woman that is having problems with her husband. When Socco meets the boy Darryl (Daniel Williams), he finds that Darryl lives with a foster family that does not take care of him. Further, he has just witnessed the murder of another boy by a small-time criminal. Socco helps the boy to grow-up while helps Burke and tries to find work at a supermarket.

"Always Outnumbered" is a powerful drama with the story of a man that is trying to build a new life after committing murder and staying imprisoned for a long period. He has no education, but has become wise with the lessons of life, and is a good man that helps friends and acquaintances. The story shows also his difficulty to find a job due to his age, color and background. However the plot is hopeful in the end. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Garantia de Vida" ("Warranty of Life")
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Simply Brilliant
edfou55 September 2004
A beautiful piece of cinema - don't be put off by the fact that it's listed as a television production - it has more heart and soul and craftsmanship than any fifty contemporary Hollywood films. Fishburne's portrayal of this very intricate character is one of the great male screen performances of his generation. I'll confess that I had more than a few tears rolling down my cheeks at the end of the film. Once again ignoring exceptional small-scale work, the Academy Awards and movie media in general proved themselves to be so much debilitating, meaningless, commercial rubbish by ignoring it. Resist the dumbing down of America and support films like this and, for example, "The Station Agent."
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8/10
Brave and exceptional in many many ways
david-3762 November 1999
Ground breaking moral film running counter to the exploitative mainstream. Deserves, and will probably receive, serious study by film students for many years to come.

I can only imagine this would have been the kind of rare, special once-in-a-life-time project all who participated must feel pretty good about.
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8/10
Gilding the lily
som195030 June 2002
Laurence Fishburne is superb as Socrates Fortlow in the HBO movie of Walter Mosley's adaptation of his first book of Fortlow stories. Mosley wove his stories together fairly well in the screenplay. The quest for a job, the serious undertaking of mentoring Darryl, dealing with the dealer/mugger and with the car-jacker are cinematic. Daniel Williams' portrayal of Darryl as a vulnerable discarded child who has to act tough is very, very good. The friendship with Right Burke (Bill Cobbs) is plausible, but having "Right" narrate the film seems unnecessary to me. We can see in Fishburne's performance the kind of many Socrates is without Right telling us how heroic he is.

The relationships with women are less convincing, or at least less compelling. I don't remember what Luvia (Cicely Tyson) has against Socrates. His relationship with Iula Brown (Natalie Cole) lacks chemistry (and screen time).
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9/10
I was very impressed with this movie
suzykeen6 August 2002
This was a strange yet very rewarding movie you learned form the characters , about pride and helplessness and survival..I have watched this movie more than once I found the character very compelling, I recomend it highly
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10/10
Socrates Fortlow a Ex Con trying to find redemption in a bad world.
feakes12 February 2016
I'm a big fan of Walter Mosely's detective Easy Rawlins . Easy led me to Fearless Jones who lead me to Socrates Fortlow. And I am very glad and grateful to make friends with Socrates . The Book Always outnumbered Always outgunned. Told the story of a Convict named Socrates Fortlow who is released from prison after serving a life sentence for the rape and murder of a girl and her boyfriend. The Book tells us that Socrates has sledgehammer hands rock breaking hands . He's a powerful man. And he's full of remorse for the evil act he did. Back in the late 60's Socrates murdered a man and a woman while drunk and now he's paid his whole life for that act. Always Outnumbered Always outgunned. Sums up the story rather well. The Book was broken down into a series of Short stories in which the movie took its script from and tells those stories as a whole movie. And it is a Marvel. The Story is simple. Socrates Fortlow is a Ex Con released from jail ten months ago. He looks for work but the only work available to him is gathering bottles and cans . Socrates becomes involved in the problem of a young boy who witnessed a terrible Crime committed by a street gang. While trying to help the boy grow up to be a man Socrates also becomes involved in the problems of his neighborhood . And while helping others he realizes a man can't run away from his problems he has to help. And By helping he might find redemption. Along the Way Socrates finds a Woman to love. And gets a job. But each story in itself contains a lesson. And that's the point of this wonderful under rated movie. You're always outnumbered Always outgunned but you can't stop. you can't let them win because you're scared. You can't let the world beat you down so that you don't care. You make a stand for something. And you have to have a Code of honor.Something that'll help you along the way. And maybe just maybe you might be more then you thought you were.

Wonderful cast. Wonderful Storytelling at its best. highly recommended .
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10/10
An absolutely outstanding film.
OldDrummer5527 December 2005
I do not recall the first time I saw this film, but I was so positively impressed with the story and acting that my daughter bought the DVD and book for me. And this was when the DVD still cost a small fortune! Mr. Socrates Fortlo is a very complex individual who is just trying to do the right thing. His friends and neighbors recognize his natural leadership abilities and they routinely come to him with their problems. The narration is a nice touch too. He has a code of honor that he maintains, and he just wants to do the right thing... and he attempts to pass his code of honor on to the next generation. This film should be a "must watch" for everyone.
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Black on the outside...
habbfan20 May 2005
But human on the inside. A warm, thoughtful, touching examination of both men and women. The little indignities we visit on each other everyday whether we are aware of them or not. The strength to do the right thing. This film is possibly Larry Fishburne's finest performance, subtle, nuanced, deeply felt. He seems so natural that this could be a documentary. Black on the surface because Walter Mosley can only write what he knows,as I can only write about what I have experienced, but human inside because here is a thoughtful man reflecting on a world that is not black and white but multicultural and multi-ethnic with the focus on what he knows.

This film should be shown in every school. It may not cure the troubles we see there but those it does reach will be changed.
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9/10
Six more years of hemlock, no American progress.
billhol2 February 2004
Via this finely crafted and deeply thoughtful 1998 film, Michael Apted directed our consciousness towards more than one of our society's trash heaps. With it now being 2004, I do not see any change. Laurence Fishburne's character, Socrates, still deftly provides us with poignant details about *our* needs. And so Apted's metaphorical deaths (and the wasted physical death, which is finely portrayed by Bill Cobb's character, Right Burke) must *again* make us face our society's problems. Some may callously claim that everyone (in some way) must kill themselves for a society (and thus "many must suffer"), but this film (and our current society) is their glass house. All three men (and no less importantly, the rest of the cast) should be very proud of this current, relevant work.
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Questionable Messages
jmorrison-224 May 2002
Laurence Fishburne is one of my favorite actors, and he is tremendous in this. The problem I had with this movie is the motivations and lessons it portrays. The messages seem to be self-defeating for a black man living in the circumstances he did. There seems to be a cycle, and a simple-mindedness, to his thoughts and behaviors, that will always lead him back to where he is. He tries to find a job with a store, which is a good distance from where he lives. He is told that he lives out of the store's area, and he has no phone. He fumes and complains about the unfairness of it all, but instead of looking for a job closer to where he lives, he wants to continue to press the issue with this particular store, as if this will prove some point. There doesn't seem to be anything to gain here. He continually makes things harder on himself, and then complains that he can't get a break.

Of course, the message is to become a more self-reliant man, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that, but the self-reliance aspect is almost taken to the point of absurdity, and to the point where he is likely to put himself right back in prison. This may be a reality for some people, but it is a reality that has no real, positive outcome. There are better ways to lift himself out of the circumstances he finds himself in, but pursuing solutions that are guaranteed to fail, and the bitterness that follows, pretty well ensures continued poverty.

There just wasn't much to uplift you in this movie. Not that there had to be, but I would have much rather seen a more realistic take on a man, who has seen more than his share of hard luck and hard times, struggling to make a better life for himself with whatever the world can offer, instead of dragging himself down when he feels someone has slighted him.

The friendship of the young boy was troubling, also. The message Socrates conveys to the kid is that force is what gains respect from your peers. This was a stupid, infantile approach for this at-risk kid. The fact that the kid picks up a gun should not have been surprising to anyone. This would naturally follow exactly the lesson he was trying to teach. The fact is, there were far too many young boys and men prowling those streets who had been taught the same lessons, and now were simply applying what they had learned out on those streets.

A very interesting character study of this man, and a fine performance by Laurence Fishburne, but the movie glorified self-destructive thought-processes, and cyclical poverty.
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Socrates Fortlow teaches all of us something about life.
seldon-324 June 1999
I'm writing this speaking as one of those who worked on this film, in the capacity of Music Editor. This was one of the best and most rewarding films I've ever worked on, and hope that more people will get a chance to watch it. This film gently but insistently brings us into the life of Socrates Fortlow, a man who's been to hell and back, and has much wisdom to pass on to all of us.
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10/10
Excellent movie!
pshemee16 January 2006
I was really impressed by this movie. This film is not like others where everything is black and white. It has a very very good story. I can say it is much better movie than you usually can see in cinema. ...storyline goes about Fortlow Socrates. He is poor guy bat he want to get job and to have a normal life. He is very moral and proud man... he was in jail for killing to peoples an for rape. One day he found am kid...when he ask him why he killed chicken, kid become very nervous...they become very good friends. At the end almost everything turns out OK, except one big thing! His best fried dies...this doesn't do a lot of bad thing on Socrates soul because his friend did what he want in life...same as Socrates want.

If you like watching a touching movies this is good choose for you!
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10/10
Despair is "outnumbered"
joyce2cats-121 December 2002
Socrates is a man of inner strength and depth. His life experience has not hardened him to the simple needs of others, young and old. He's masterfully portrayed by Fishburne...subtley acted. He lets him be very human...not always right, but of strong conviction.

The movie is poetically mounted with narration by the accomplished actor Bill Cobbs who is riveting as the old man dying of cancer. I hung on every word of his character, I followed every movement of his body. He also portrayed a strong man, somehow strengthened even more while facing pain and death.

The friendship merged by these two characters was so intimate, they touched the screen so gently. The lives that these two touched were made so much the richer, given so much more hope...for living.

All characters joined together to bring a most worthwhile story to fruition. A story of black people touching, caring, sharing, loving one another from deep within, with heart.

What's always outnumbered? Evil and despair. They are outnumbered here by this representation of generations of a people that reaches back to yesterday for wisdom, reaches out to today for experience and reaches forward to tomorrow for future life, hopes and dreams.

I, very simply, loved this film.
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Touching, Thoughtful Slice of life.
crodley-27 May 2000
This is a compelling story of a man and his efforts in having principles in an unprincipled world. Socrates Fortlow is an ex-con released and struggling with a variety of issues in Watts. The different threads to this story range from heart breaking to downright thrilling. The interesting thing about Lawrence Fishburne's character is that while he is a hero in his attitude, he is not an unblemished creature. He let's his emotions take him where he'd rather not be at times, much like most of us. He reflects feelings like anger, frustration, loneliness, and regret in very realistic fashion. Bill Cobbs is also captivating as Socrates elderly friend. He does double duty as the infrequent, and unobtrusive, narrator. The scene where Socrates confronts a flashy thief who shows contempt for his average ways is a movie classic. This is a must see movie in my opinion. You need not be an African American to relate to this movie, just someone who fights with right and wrong in his or her own life. I wish Hollywood would put out sequels to fine movies like this instead of only action movies.
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10/10
Awesome film about real life problems and challenges...
vkoret28 January 2005
I saw this film on HBO and was blown away by both the story and the acting by Lawrence Fishburne. This film is very unusual for America, in my opinion, in that it does not emphasize gratuitous violence, sex, and all the other "fast food" components of many of Hollywood blockbusters. Instead, it focuses on the individual and how that individual deals with life's real problems. It is about taking responsibility for one's actions, making the best of one has, redemption, friendship, love, being genuine and humane, doing the best that you can even when the odds are not tipped in your favor. It is not necessarily a better film than the blockbusters: it is a different film - it is good for the soul. I think it makes you a little bit better person after you see it and give it some thought. Just my .02.
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9/10
Nobody Else
godfreecharlie21 August 2018
Started watching while skimming through the options for the evening's entertainment. Five minutes turned into ten, ten into total captivation. Another one of those movies you wonder how it got past your searches. Totally devoid of technical CGI futuristic explosions and cyber warfare, space exploration and domination, nekkid trollops servicing space cadets in their hyper-sleep chambers. Nope. JUST A DAMN GOOD MOVIE DONE DAMN GOOD. LOTS OF TALENT DISPLAYED BUT MADE TO LOOK EFFORTLESS. COMES NATURAL FOR WASHBURNE AND THE REST OF THE CREW.
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10/10
THIS MOVIE MOVED ME DEEPLY
griot58 June 2018
As I sit here, helping to heal myself from cancer, this cast has let me know and reinforce that redemption is real.

As a Melanated woman who is also a Filmmaker/Griot, finding a movie about other Melanated people finding total redemption, is few and far, far, far, far between. What this powerful, well casted cast has done, is transported me to a place of raw strength, and what it takes to 'make it' for real. It takes brutal honesty. It takes being able to accept the experiences we have had and be brave enough to live with the harsh consequences. BUT (I know I'm not suppose to use it at the opening of a sentence, however...) this movie let's you know, with such stark cruelty of this world, there is sweetness and love in a Black man and woman's heart that can take them through anything. Love brings hope. Hard work brings satisfaction and when the two marry, it's brings about The Creator's perfect plan. A knowing in your heart that you've worked to do the best that you can, and the subtle results, one can never take away from you.

So, for a 28 year old woman, who had just buried her husband, when this film was released in 1998, I thank The Almighty for allowing me to see this example of how the mercy of the Lord is always on all of us.

Thank you Walter Mosley, cast and crew, for this gift.

Peace continuously, Rosheena Beek
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8/10
Lesser known classic
Baptizedinbacongrease9 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I had seen this movie in passing at first, not knowing the name of the movie but with a bit of research I ended up watching the movie in it's entirety on HBO. This was one of my favorite performances by Laurence Fishburne because he had his moments where it felt this was based on a true story. This wasn't a typical story of tragedy, in fact at times his decisions were impossible to be the right ones, but it's a dark side of what some people live with and the circumstances that few people can deal with.

The quality wasn't the best, this was obviously a low budget film that never graced the silver screen. There are several forgettable moments in the movie, while others were done exceptionally well. This story isn't one based on great morals, most of the time it was about getting away or having to accept facts or use violence to make things better.

My favorite scenes were of Laurence Fishburne's character Socrates being a felon who was doing what it takes to make a living, and the harsh reality it is for people who have served time in prison. The parts where he recycled to make money, getting paid in change, dealing with places who refused to hire him, being haunted by his past kept me captivated in what will happen next. They were in a bad neighborhood and tried to make it better, having to swallow your pride at times but they still managed to see a tomorrow.

While there are several flaws with the teenager he decided to look after and basically mentor, it showed a side of Socrates as a man who was very flawed but still able to teach him to stand up for himself and make better decisions. The teenager could have been written much better but it made Socrates much more fragile at times and shed light on a softer side where he was out to help others. In the end, I didn't agree that he made the youngster run away from his problems, but it was a better decision and gave closure to his scenario.

For some reason the table being restore was a failed attempt at a metaphor to me, but it was obvious that they had it in the movie as an excuse to eliminate the other love interest and teenager. His love interest with the lady in the restaurant was done fairly well, for the most part, but it worked. Those were some of the better scenes in the movie because he wasn't a romantic guy, he was struggling to find work but had too much pride to start a relationship despite the woman making it clear she was interested in him regardless of his situation.

The crackhead part was great, there are some moments where Socrates almost looked like a superhero by disarming teenagers and being fearless in heated situations, but I really liked how he scared the crackhead away. That seems to be the thing I liked about his character, and the same goes with him refusing to buy a gun so his friend could shoot himself after the suffering of being terminally ill. Those parts felt authentic at times, there are moments where you often question if you would make the same decisions, even when some of the characters think the best decision would be to murder someone.

I don't know if I liked the ending, I say this based on how I can't think of another way it should have ended. I was disturbed originally but it seems like it was a story written by the narrator, which makes it more flawed, it gives me the impression that the script was rushed and re-written during production. Then again this was a movie never intended to have a theatrical release.

When all is said and done, I still think it had some amazing moments and Laurence Fishburne's performance was great. This movie wasn't afraid to address the harsh reality of a tough neighborhood and how the people who deal with poverty get treated. If they polished up the script more, spent more time on production and maybe replaced a few of the actors it would have been a huge hit.
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10/10
loved it
nice_guy56714 January 2013
this is one of those films where you got to watch it from start to finish i loved this movie for what it was a roller-coaster ride for a man who has lost everything but gained respect for what he is and what he believes in and how the kid showed him it was OK to love again but all in all if you like action all the way through a movie this one is not for you but if you like a movie with a story and you feel the pain of the actors this is a must watch for you great plot great story line everything in this movie in my case is great i give it a 9 out of 10 just because its one of those movies where u can watch it once but you can watch it again and again and still get drawn in by the actors
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Love, Death, Hero
thumper-194 June 2002
"You can't save me"

Worthwhile movie; almost experimental in its creativity and effort to avoid cliche's. Doesn't really matter whether I think this movie is "Good" or not; it is there; you have time. Watch it; feel it; think it for yourself.
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