Detroit (2017) is directed by Kathryn Bigelow and stars John Boyega, Will Poutler, Hannah Murray, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, and Nathan Davies Jr. It tells the story of a police raid in 1967 in one of the largest race riots in US history. It revolves around the true story of the infamous Algiers Motel incident involving the deaths of three black men and the brutal beatings of seven black men and two white females.
This movie is incredible and one of the best of the year. Kathryn Bigelow once again shows why she’s an oscar winning filmmaker. The movie is extremely thrilling, extremely nail-biting and in typical Bigelow style it feels very, very real. Almost documentary style. The same intensity she brought to the Hurt Locker (2008) she brings her. The same suspense present in Zero Dark Thirty (2012) is present here. Expect Oscar nominations.
The film’s strong point is certainly it’s intensity and the rawness in which it portrays its subject matter. Race relations and police brutality have become a very, very sensitive subject especially in the US and Bigelow dives right into it. She does not shy away from the subject matter. Her approach is honest and unapologetic. I really believe the timing of this feel was pretty apt.
I’m never gonna see her as the innocent Gilly on Game of Thrones ever again after seeing her in this movie.
The film’s strongest point is probably the acting however. Special props go to Will Poutler’s racist cop, Krauss. The guy is talented, and plays the character in a creepy, smug and cold intensity that will surely make audiences hate him from start to finish. Hannah Murray was great too. I’m never gonna see her as the innocent Gilly on Game of Thrones ever again after seeing her in this movie. A true surprise. Smith, Mitchell and Latimore all deliver exactly how they need too. There’s something about John Boyega. I don’t know. I’ve seen this in his other performances. The man has this reliable, leader-like quality about him. I really loved his character. Probably the most. I expect to see him explore this uniqueness more in coming pictures.
I really do believe the acting is what is most important about a film like this. Most of the heart of the movie takes stage in one room, or small building rather. The situation is more or less describable as a hostage encounter and it is acted absurdly well. The directing too is top notch. This I suppose, is what a true hostage situation would look like.
The film’s plot isn’t all that simple though. Here we have 3 different stories told by the eyes of Boyega, Poulter and the trio of Smith, Latimore and Mitchell’s characters respectively. These three very different stories converge towards the start of the second act by perfect fate. By that time, the audience is kept perfectly aware of the three different stories and it is told in a simple, non confusing way.
Unfortunately, the third act does run a little staler. I suppose the drop in intensity following the end of the long crisis at the film’s core meant a drop in the audience’s attention and care. The film could have been a tad shorter and the last few scenes really didn’t need to exist. The film left me very angry and disgusted. This was its intention. However the additional scenes before the credits really softened this sensation.
I got to say though. The props need to go back to Bigelow on this. Those riots and the chaotic confusion felt like a war zone and one really gets some sort of idea about what it was like on the ground. Both from the perspective of an average citizen trying to live through the riots, and the cops, trying to contain the riots.
But what this film really is, is an all true realistic reflection on the troubled relations between the African American community in the US and the police. It comes at a time when race relations are at an all time low. And is a disappointing reminder that even after the end of the 1960s..we still have these issues in 2017. The film is meant to shock you. Anger you. Disgust you. It served its purpose. And it’s a perfect artistic protest that something, urgently – needs to change.