Hello Everyone, Janet W. here…
Fifty years ago (to the day I screened Detroit), atrocities occurred in Detroit, Michigan. July 25, 1967 has been a day of woe for generations past and will be for those to come. Effectively capturing the events of this time, Detroit offers a raw in-your-face journey into the debasement of human beings simply because of their color. Such actions led to outrage which brewed to boiling over due to criminal misconduct and murder performed by police officers escalated to several days of rioting and worse. Black people helping the crooked cops unlawfully abuse and imprison other black people.
The opening sequence was too busy to fully grasp intent. The animated painting tells the story of abuse in the black neighborhoods by police. However, the small white titles flashing periodically against the colorful moving image were missed practically the whole time. Perhaps they should have considered a cut to black with the titles, so we could comprehend either the prose or the facts displayed. The grainy image and the bouncing unsteady cam was reminiscent of Blair Witch Project and Quarantine. If two-time Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker), the director, aimed to present a realistic period documentary style of story telling, she succeeded. The quick cuts were difficult in a few places though (headache inducing). The use of mixed media was quite an effective aid to presenting this travesty.
The cast is mostly unknown to me. Anthony Mackie is most known for his work in films like 8 Mile, Haven, and the Marvel films Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War. However, you may recognize John Boyega from the latest installments of the Star Wars saga. Algee Smith was a pleasant surprise, such a voice. Coupled with his appearance, I understand why he portrayed Ralph Tresvant in the TV mini-series, The New Edition Story. I slightly remembered Will Poulter from The Revenant. From a scared little frontiersman to a vicious and racist coward, my how different the role he plays in Detroit. I recall when Jason Mitchell played Easy-E in Straight Outta Compton. He did very well and continues to show promise. Detroit’s cast may be unknown, but their performances were excellent.
Detroit is an upsetting, but necessary history lesson well produced by Bigelow’s team. Though the film carried on a little long, 2 hours and 23 minutes, it rouses the emotions and provides great insight to a trying time in our nation’s history. Do not mistake my intent with this review. I honor its production and mourn the truth from which it is based. I do not say that all cops are criminals. There are good men and women in blue that protect us represented in Detroit by the officers that save of Smith’s character Larry. Honorable police officers should be held in high esteem above the cops that cause so much pain. To honor good policeman is not to ignore the pain and lives lost at the hands of such vile cops (I hate to even give them similar title as the good). Perhaps when we honor the good policeman their strength will grow in their departments and they will steer the hearts and minds of the wicked back to proper path and cause. That would honor those whose lives we have lost more.
A MEMORABLE WORK
Janet L. White
Your friendly straightforward neighborhood critic