“Detroit” stars John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell, John Krasinski, and Anthony Mackie. Released in limited theaters on July 28, 2017, followed by a wide release on August 4, 2017, the film showcases the Algiers Motel incident that occurred in 1967 during the racially charged 12th Street Riot.
The film is directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who also directed films such as Point Break, The Hurt Locker, and Zero Dark Thirty. Once again, we just entered the final few weeks of this year’s summer movie season, and you know what that means? Yep, it’s time for me to review a fact-based drama that may have some Oscar potential according to critics. Bigelow has been known for delivering strong and intense fact-based stories that are as real as life itself, and this film appears to be no different. Her last film, Zero Dark Thirty, left me entirely speechless, and I expected this one to do the same. While the experience is not for the sensitive crowd, I can easily say that Bigelow still got her A-game.
The entire story focuses on the events before, during, and after the Algiers Motel incident that took place in Detroit, Michigan 50 years ago. Not only that, but it also showcases the characters and their experiences towards this terrifying and brutal event. To me, this is one of Bigelow’s biggest strengths in her filmography because of her ability to generate emotion and realism from the characters, their perspectives, and the brutality that is shown to her audience. The violence here is not meant to be pure entertainment, it is portrayed to teach us, the audience, what life was like in the 1960s. It’s filled with frustration and fear, and that’s what made the film both disturbing and relatable to me. The direction she took for this film is absolutely flawless and riveting. If she doesn’t get some sort of recognition for her work, then I will be at a loss for words. The entire cast did such an excellent job with their performances. John Boyega delivered his best performance yet as Melvin Dismukes. He’s come a long way since starring in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I am glad to see that he’s still going strong. I also thought Will Poulter and Algee Smith were both brilliant as Philip Krauss and Larry Reed, respectively. I could definitely see Poulter getting some Oscar recognition for his performance because of his stunning and demanding tone that almost felt real. The subject matter that is shown in this film is well-handled and filled with emotional depth that just comes naturally instead of being forced. Mark Boal’s screenplay also helps in expressing the characters’ thoughts and feelings towards the incident. My only minor concern for the film is its running time, which clocks in at about two hours and 23 minutes. It doesn’t affect my experience entirely since it moves at a respectable pace, but I’m not sure if people who are sensitive to this kind of stuff would be able to handle the amount of tension and violence that is shown in the film.
Overall, “Detroit” is not just a great film. It is also a reminder. A reminder of what will happen if we don’t pull ourselves together and think with our heads instead of our butts. If we don’t learn from our past mistakes, then sooner or later, history will repeat itself and we won’t be able to live long enough to see tomorrow. Kathryn Bigelow has successfully accomplished her goal in delivering that message while also creating a strong and tension-filled experience that’s as emotional as the Algiers Motel incident itself. With its strong cast, Bigelow’s flawless direction, and Mark Boal’s captivating screenplay, this hard-hitting drama is a splendid late summer hit. If you’re a fan of Bigelow’s filmography, it is definitely worth checking out. If you’re sensitive to the realistic brutality that is shown in some films, I don’t think this one will be able to win you over, but if you’re interested in seeing it regardless, then I would say watch it at home.
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