An Intensely Powerful Film
Detroit is about the riots that took place in Motor City in 1967. Kathryn Bigelow directs from Mark Boal’s (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) screenplay. These multitalented filmmakers have taken a true life drama and produced a film that should be shown on every TV in every home in America. The movie is hard to watch, especially for me since I was attacked during the riots in Newark, NJ. in1967, but it’s essential for all of us to come together.
The story centers on the Algiers Motel incident, which occurred during the racially charged 12th Street Riot. It involves the death of three black men and the brutal beatings of nine other people: seven black men and two white women. The police raid in Detroit was one of the largest race riots in United States history.
Just as many might suspect where this story would take place, the first focus is on Larry Reed (Algee Smith), who along with his group “The Dramatics,” are about to perform at Detroit’s legendary Fox Theater located in an area where racial disparities in housing, education, and unemployment already had locals in a rage atmosphere.
When chaos erupts outside, Larry and his friend Fred Temple (Jacob Latimore) take refuge at the Algiers. In the hotel at the same time are two girls cheering themselves up with drinks. Julie (Hannah Murray) and Karen (Kaitlyn Dever) join Carl (Jason Mitchell) and some of the guys in their room. Eventually joining the group is Melvin (John Boyega), a private security guard working nearby and trying to keep the peace where he can. A war vet (Anthony Mackie), who was arrested at a speakeasy, shows up as well.
Carl starts clowning around, even wielding a starter pistol. A noise alerts Officer Krauss (Will Poulter), who doesn’t stick to department protocol and will shoot a baby out of a women’s hand if he feels like it. He’s joined by his fellow patrolmen Flynn (Ben O’Toole). The group is ordered into another area as guests hostages, insisting someone must know where the sniper is. This turns into the worst night of their lives. Even the two women suffer.
Bigelow appears to be a master when it comes to right and wrong and injustice. She proved that in her award-winning films The Hurt Locker and, Zero Dark Thirty. Surely this film will also get awards at year’s end, and any of the actors as well. The film’s presentation will keep moviegoers glued in their seats. It’s one of the finest ensemble casts I’ve seen, and they all praise Bigelow for the way she had them play their roles. When asked what they thought after reading the script, cast members said they never had a script. Bigelow told them they knew the story, so when the cameras rolled “to start acting.” The entire cast couldn’t say enough about what a wonderful director she was and how incredible the experience with this story became was for them all.
Reawaking the memory of the 1967 riots could be a forewarning or a shadow of what is still going on today. Bigelow has captured the fear and heart of this tragedy and leaves the viewers to make the right decisions in our daily life. I think everyone who sees it will hope it helps end racial discrimination.
(Released by MGM Annapurna Pictures and rated “R” for strong violence and pervasive obscenities.)