Sunday, August 13, 2017
Im not sure what I expected out of Kathryn Bigelow's latest film, Detroit, but what I got was another classic edge of the seat thriller. Bigelow, who specializes in films like The Hurt Locker, which was the tensest movie I'd seen in many years and Zero Dark Thirty, another film of controversy that featured hair raising magnitude, tackles another controversial subject, the 1967 Detroit riots.
The Detroit riots began after years of a burning fuse that finally ran out of space and the bomb went off in July of 1967. The first 45 minutes of the movie involve cops killing people and the people looting the stores and the chaos in the streets. Quite frankly its rather slow and cliche' and I began to wonder when something was going to happen.
And then BOOM!. The next 45 minutes will have you shaking your damn head and cringing as the police home invade the Algiers Hotel, kill a man for running away, and round up the remaining people partying for a long road of torture and brutality. Facing the wall with their hands in the air, the people caught up in this craziness are subjected to beatings and mock executions as the standard police psycho attempts to either get the name of a "shooter" or just be a dick. Then something goes terribly wrong and the "game" becomes real.
Three people were murdered at that hotel on that night and the cops were indicted.
The remaining 45 minutes change from the scariness of what the hell will happen to these people at the hotel to what will happen to the cops who murdered the 3 people. The trial.
Defended by a sleazy lawyer, Jim Halpert, the witnesses are again subjected to another type of brutality. The unfair court system which favors white authority because it's run by white authority. No spoilers here on what happens but you'd have to be a Charlottesville White Supremacist to be dumb enough to not know.
This film, like most Bigelow films, has its detractors, those sticklers who get pissed because the movie isnt 6 hours long and tell a story that the critics feel is more important. The torture in Zero Dark Thirty, the Peoples Tribunal in this one. But Bigelow is a filmmaker, one of the best working today. This movies isnt Zero Dark Thirty or even The Hurt Locker, but its the 2nd best movie of the year behind Dunkirk.
If you want to see a movie, not a history lesson, that may make you want to learn more about the Algiers Hotel murders, by all means see this movie. It'll piss you off and it'll make you despair when you realize nothing has changed in 50 years. But the most important reason to see this movie is to give it money, and then they then may make more movies like this. Something that will whet your appetite to learn more about neglected American history and neglected American heroes.