Affectionately known as “peace-pipe” for his ability to mollify warring blacks and Latinos in his deep Brooklyn neighborhood, good-natured Derrick works a service job at Liberty Island along with his lifelong friend, the cantankerous egoist Tico. Losing their jobs because of 9/11 — which is rendered with pokerfaced verisimilitude — the two friends struggle to survive in an increasingly gentrified NYC. While Derrick, a devoted father, pursues a GED, searches for honest work and flirts with the idea of enlistment, the generally unsympathetic Tico resorts to a series of ludicrous cons and drug-dealing. Inspired by Chaiken’s numerous interviews with veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, this bildungsroman and neighborhood piece is undermined by the generic choice of urban cultural archetypes and hackneyed storylines. However, digressive vignettes and the exploration of the concept of liberty, and its ostensible social limitations, add some much needed depth. Derrick’s one-dimensional sweetness verges on saccharine throughout much of the film, but it is ultimately challenged by the insidious experience of surviving a war.