The newest film by Kathryn Bigelow depicts the true, though embellished, story of the murder of three African American men during the riots in Detroit on July 25, 1967. The film runs just under 2 ½ hours, but is engaging, devastating, and frustrating for most of it. Bigelow’s choice to use handheld camera at odd times was noticeable and annoying, but the film works all around.
Detroit is riveting, but devastating.
The film opens with the events leading to the RACE riots in Detroit. Several people are seen but it’s not really until Detroit Police officers Krauss (Will Poulter), Demens (Jack Reynor), and Flynn (Ben O’Toole) shoot a fleeing looter that some of the main characters are introduced. Then Dismukes (John Boyega) arrives home and is called back into his security job. Then Larry (Algee Smith) and his band the Dramatics with their friend Fred (Jacob Latimore) are seen backstage at Motown awaiting a performance that would be canceled. Larry and Fred end up fleeing to the Algiers Motel where they would meet Julie (Hannah Murray) and Karen (Kaitlyn Dever) who would then introduce them to Carl (Jason Mitchell).
The film is extremely intense with great performances from all of the major players and some of the minor ones. The middle of the film is at the Algiers where city and state police accompanied by the National Guard arrive after they hear what is believed to be sniper fire coming from the building. Dismukes follows as he was trying to act as a middleman for the African American community and law enforcement. His position as a security guard at a local supermarket apparently allowed him access to the building where police had gathered suspects.
It’s crazy to see the events play out and the “game” that the city police use to try and get information about the sniper. Poulter plays a scary villain who can be very intimidating and then very friendly a moment later. Smith gets a lot of the screen time and owns it. The movie tries show that there were good and bad people on both sides of the issue.
Detroit is definitely a movie people need to see. However, it’s definitely going to be one that is difficult to watch. Bigelow seems to do a good job of retelling the story in an engaging way, even though the last sequence drags a bit. Detroit earns the Must See rating.