Bam Bam Bigelow
I’ll admit director Kathryn Bigelow addled me with the more serious second phase in her career. While she started off making cool movies such as Point Break and Strange Days, “the war is my life” philosophy behind The Hurt Locker felt hollow. Even the potentially eye-opening Zero Dark Thirty covered ground long muddied by use. That’s why Detroit, her stunningly realized document emerges as something fresh.
Any history student knows a little about the Civil Rights Movement. Despite the temptation to cram for a big exam, Bigelow and writer Mark Boal focus our gaze. Therefore, a narrative depicting police brutality, false evidence, broken dreams, perjury and racism doesn’t pander to political correctness.
Completely stone-faced, chilling and believable, Will Poulter delivers an amazing turn as the baby-faced lawman. Don’t let the looks fool you, this dog munches a bone until it resembles a pulpy mass. Also, the way he measures justice makes him a spiritual successor to Gene Hackman’s Little Bill in Unforgiven.
For my money, Detroit felt like Bigelow’s greatest moment. There wasn’t a single frame squandered or rendered slapdash. Thus, her direction looks better than it ever did. Combine that with ingenious editing from William Goldenberg and Harry Yoon, and the picture stands tall. As a matter of fact, I’d place it alongside Blackboard Jungle, The Defiant Ones and especially In the Heat of the Night. Those films remain significant despite being well-acted. Meanwhile, Detroit shares the sentiment by reflecting hate and dishonesty in an unforgettable package. Don’t miss it.
(Released by MGM Annapurna Pictures and rated “R” for strong violence and pervasive obscenities.)
For more information about Detroit, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.