Release Date: August 4, 2017
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Mark Boal
Cast: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Hannah Murray, Jack Reynor, Kaitlyn Dever, Ben O’Toole, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie, Nathan Davis Jr. Peyton ‘Alex’ Smith, Malcolm David Kelley, Joseph David-Jones, Laz Alonzo, Ephraim Sykes, Leon Thomas III, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Chris Chalk, Jeremy Strong, Austin Hebert, Miguel Pimentel, Khris Davis, Samira Wiley
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 143 minutes
Production Company: Annapurna Pictures, First Light Production, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Annapurna Distribution
Genre: Crime, Drama, History
Budget: $34 million
Director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and writer Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty) team up again to deliver the goodness in film as they always do. With the story Detroit being loosely based on true events (admitted by the director herself), it focuses on the incident that took place at the Algiers Motel during the summer of 1967. This film is a must see, but a hard one to endure as well for many reasons. It’s a reminder of how much hasn’t changed in this country as it relates to race relations and some police departments. It shines light on a dark past that may have been forgotten, never known, or just swept under a rug. It’s brutally gruesome and the performances across the board are outstanding, which will warrant Oscar discussion during the upcoming season. To say this film is intense is an understatement. It still has a few key points that missed its target, but the overall impact makes up for the few shortcomings.
Through Bigelow’s filmmaking style, she shows there’s much more than just hitting record and yelling “action.” The tone that’s set up sucks you in to where this doesn’t seem like a film, but a virtual reality that you’re a part of. There is some hand-held shaky camera work that makes the experience very effective. Bigelow knocked a few balls out of the park within this film, but failed in the depiction of Black people and why the riots started 50 years ago. Through some opening credits and cartoon illustrations, she attempted to map out why tensions were so high at that time, but didn’t bring it all the way home. If seeing this film was your first-time hearing about the Detroit riots, I would understand if you were confused with questions. There was an event used in the intro of the film, but it still didn’t properly do justice for a valid reason why civilians would destroy their neighborhood. It came across as Black People were just crazy and have lost their minds. Another key point that missed its mark was how the police department found the Algiers Motel. From the trailers to how it was fleshed out on screen was a bit misleading.
Fortunately, the remaining elements were all a near masterpiece. The writing behind every word of dialogue was fearless. As the film transitioned on, the entire cast felt as if they were born to play their respected role. Even though the character Krauss (Will Poulter) was detestable, his involvement will be a key factor in any recognition the film receives during its time of glory. John Boyega role was much smaller than I expected, but the film is focusing more on an event of the actual characters that make up the story. The surrounding cast was a stand out as well. Whether they were extra’s in the background, or characters off to the side helping to create the atmosphere. As a Black man myself I was able to relate to the terrorism they face on screen. It was heart wrenching making me feels ways I haven’t before in quite some time. If the film objective was to make you feel something, it passed with flying colors.
The film is also separated in sections towards the beginning, and comes together in the long daunting 2nd act to draw things out. In the end some of the extra weight of the film could’ve been left on the cutting room floor. Though during all of this you’re still wondering how it will all end, even if you already knew the outcome. I was very impressed by Jason Mitchell, Algee Smith, and Anthony Mackie as well. Their roles especially were done with precision and that makes it much more emotional.
What hit me the most is how the film is an exact representation of how relationships with people that don’t look like you will affect you mentally. Black people in this film were terrorize and beaten for no reason than hatred for the color of their skin. It’s painful to see such evil behavior condition minds in such a way that it becomes a generational issue. Some of the actors/actresses didn’t even possess a script, and just acted on pure emotions and their firsthand experiences. Even though this isn’t an easy viewing, I suggest you do for the growth you’ll endure afterwards.