Reviewed bybkrauser-81-311064Vote: 7/10/10
The poster of Annapurna's newest film, Detroit hangs at my localtheater like a provocation. A thin blue line of police officersstruggles to hold back angry black protesters as big bold letters arescrawled along the side. The tagline reads: "It's time we knew." Thosewords, along with the required "from the creators of..." accolades arethe only things on the poster that aren't sideways.
They might as well be though, considering the 1967 Detroit riot isabout the only thing about Detroit most Americans know. And I'm sad toreport that while the film does a good job of filling the screen with afew powerful moments, it never provides much insight into the "untold"story of the Motor City or how its story fits into the larger contextof modern racial relations.
After an awkward Jacob Lawrence inspired history of the GreatMigration, the film captures the precipitating actions of police thatturned the city's long sitting racial resentments into a lit tinderbox.In a hybrid of dramatization and archival footage, Detroit then glossesover the actions taken by the state to subdue tensions before settingits sights on a host of singular stories. It becomes high noon at theAlgiers Motel where unarmed black teens face off against white policeand National Guardsmen. Then comes the trial.
All of these events could have been their own movies and delved intodeeper depths as to the cause, devastation, aftermath and publicperception of what was later dubbed the black days of July. Yet becauseMark Boal's screenplay is so laser-focused on documented events andmomentary minutia, everything is squished into an off-kilter collage ofwell-meaning but superficial docudrama. One whose central story, theAlgiers Motel incident, is treated more like a genre horror film thaneither a granular traumatic event or police brutality in microcosm.
Detroit basically pulls a Dunkirk (2017), building unbelievable tensionwhile giving us the bear minimum in character. It's all about thesituation and the situation only. The recreation of which is beyondreproach. However, Detroit's grand design creates a narrativedissonance. One in which the individual experiences of real people justdon't translate all that well.
The problem is compounded further by Barry Ackroyd's unvarnishedcinematography which cuts between extreme closeups of wounded faces,voyeuristic overheads and wide shots of crowds angrily gathering in thestreets. The lack of establishing shots, aerials, use of recognizablelandmarks etc. hammers home the idea that something like this canhappen anywhere. But the question, why can it happen anywhere, remainsillusive up until we here the words "police criminality should betreated the same as criminality." By then it's too little too late.
Luckily director Kathryn Bigelow is very adept at inserting humanitywithin the margins saving Detroit from being just another Patriot's Day(2016). She finds a particularly redemptive subject in Algee Smith asup-and-coming Motown singer Larry Reed. The young actor displays anemotional intelligence well beyond his years, formulating a characterthat starts out with youthful swagger, ends with a shaken core, puttingyou in his head-space at all points in-between. Additionally, whilemost of the films attempts to color opposing forces with shades of greyfall flat, Reed's arc feels tragic but sadly understandable given thecircumstance.
Unfortunately for both Bigelow and the city of Detroit, Detroit'sscript casts too wide a net to be especially impacting. It's proceduralapproach stifles the emotional stakes and its over-arching theme isturned in with much less humanity and passion than is deserved. Evenwith a towering performance by Algee, and the inclusion of Will Poulterwho plays menacing/in-over-his-head real well, Detroit just can'ttranscends its trappings. To add insult to injury, the film itself wasshot primarily in Boston...so there's that...
Reviewed bytrublu215Vote: 7/10/10
Detroit is the latest addition to Kathryn Bigelow's lengthy filmographyand it is the most Bigelow-esque film you'd come to expect from her.The film displays raw realism with the actors looking very real andnaked from their famous personas. The story is jam packed and while Ithink this source material would have made a much better miniseries,Bigelow makes the story work with sacrificing some facts for the sakeof cinema. The big question is: is it as good as the critics say it is?The answer: No. Not Close. But with that being said, it is a damn goodmovie that is definitely worth seeing.
Telling the story of three murdered African American men in a motel inDetroit during the city's infamous riots and civil rights movement,Detroit stars an all star cast that is certainly better on paper thanthey are in this film. John Boyega, Will Poulter, Jason Mitchell,Anthony Mackie, John Krasinski, and on and on-but none of them arereally served as a main character. Bigelow is so determined on tellingthe facts of the case that she sacrifices good performances in order togive us a slice of reality. The film plays out like the most expensivereenactment of a tragedy on Investigation Discovery and, when lookingat the facts of the case, this is the best compliment I can give thefilm. It sounds back handed but it is extremely informative even if itis picking a side in all of it. The one thing Bigelow does best isshowing a true story like it is unfolding in front of you. She does itbrilliantly in The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, but Detroit iswhere it is to a fault.
With a 140-plus minute running time and a gaggle of characters to keeptrack of, the story is just too big for a feature film and requirespatience. Despite this, Kathryn Bigelow does her best to tame MarkBoal's bloated script to a digestible film and the results are mostlygood. The performances from the actors are real, raw and authentic inevery aspect but never enough to burst off the screen. Bigelow lets theevents unfold and do that for them. Overall, Detroit is certainly agood film in need of an audience just a very patient one.
Reviewed bypensacolacomputerVote: 6/10/10
When did African Americans get the bright idea that rioting andstealing are the right actions to solve something they didn't agreewith? Can you imagine what would have happened if OJ would have beenconvicted? How come they are not this upset when blacks are killingeach other everyday in the streets? Where are the protests against thatsubject that kills more blacks then all others combined? I thoughtBlack Lives Matter, or does it only apply when a white cop kills ablack? Do blacks know that black police officers shoot unarmed blackcitizens at a higher rate than white police officers do? Why is it thatblacks are only 13% of the population in the U.S. but commit over 65%of the violent crimes? What would America look like if the other racesdidn't do anything when they riot and commit crimes? Where is a goodplace to start? Quit blaming the white man and educate yourselves.
A police raid in Detroit in 1967 results in one of the largest RACE riots in United States history. The story is centred around the Algiers Motel incident, which occurred in Detroit, Michigan on July 25, 1967, 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.