MPAA Rating: R
for strong violence and pervasive obscenity
Runtime: 142 minutes
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever, Jason Mitchell, Will Poulter, Ben O’Toole
Detroit is about the riots that took place in Motor City in 1967. Kathryn Bigelow directs, Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) wrote the screenplay. These multitalented filmmakers have taken a true life drama and produced a film that should be shown on every TV in every home in America. The movie is hard to watch, especially for me since I was attacked during the riots in Newark, NJ. in1967, but essential for all of us to come together.
The story is centered on the Algiers Motel incident, which occurred 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. The police raid in Detroit was one of the largest race riots in United States history. Just as many might suspect where this story would take place; the first focus is on Larry Reed (Algee Smith), who along with his group “The Dramatics,” are about to perform at Detroit’s legendary Fox Theater. Racial disparities in housing, education, and unemployment already had locals in a rage atmosphere.
When chaos erupts outside, Larry and his friend Fred Temple (Jacob Latimore) take refuge at the Algiers At the hotel are two girls cheering themselves up with drinks. Julie (Hannah Murray) and Karen (Kaitlyn Dever) join Carl (Jason Mitchell) and some of the guys in their room. Eventually joining the group is Melvin (John Boyega), a private security guard working nearby and trying to keep the peace where he can. A war vet (Anthony Mackie), who was arrested at a speakeasy shows up as well.
Carl starts clowning around, even wielding a starter pistol. The noise alerts Officer Krauss (Will Poulter), who doesn’t stick to department protocol and will shoot a baby out of a women’s hand if he feels like it. He’s joined by his fellow patrolmen Flynn (Ben O’Toole) as the group is ordered into another area as guests hostages, insisting someone must know where the sniper is. It turns into the worst night of their lives. Even the two women suffer.
Bigelow is a master when it comes to right and wrong and injustice as she proved in her award-winning films The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty. Surely this film will also get awards at year’s end, as many of the actors as well. The presentation of this story will keep moviegoers glued in their seats. It’s one of the finest ensemble casts I’ve seen and they all praised Bigelow for the way she had them play their roles. When asked what they thought after reading the script, they said they never had a script. Kathryn told them they knew the story, and when the cameras rolled to start acting.
The entire cast couldn’t say enough about what a wonderful director she was and how incredible the experience with this story was for them all. Reawaking the memory of the 1967 riots is also a forewarning and shadow of what is still going on today. Bigelow has captured the fear and heart of this tragedy and leaves the viewer to make the right decisions in our daily walk. I think everyone who sees it will hope it helps end racial discrimination.