Darren's Movie Review.... DETROIT
1967 July, the city of Detroit - USA, was a powder keg waiting to explode. Many African Americans at that time, were segregated into their own urban area and they faced many bigoted attitudes from local law enforcement officers. A club was raided by the police, where a group of black people were celebrating the return of a couple of neighbourhood GI’s from Vietnam, instigated only, due to the premises apparently not being liquor licensed. The participants were all ushered out into the middle of the street and herded into police vans to be taken away and booked for no reason, other than attending the function. Since they understandably felt they had done nothing wrong and that they were being unduly harassed, a protest erupted on the scene and something was thrown at a police officer which sparked 5 days of rioting and looting. It was regarded as one of the worst —if not the worst—and bloodiest race riots in US history. Over 7000 people were arrested, 43 were left dead and over 1100 were injured.
This film covers an incident in the Algiers Motel, where 3 African American men were killed, and as the events of the film transpire, purportedly at the hands of a few police officers.
Oscar winning director Kathryn—1991's action, surfer classic Point Break & The Hurt Locker—Bigelow is at the helm, and she presents us with a, dark, violent, disturbing, compelling, emotionally charged and even sobering film. Bigelow has made a factual film regarding the backdrop of the riots, with the narrative of the Algiers Motel incident being based from court transcripts and eye witness testimony only. Confessions and testimonies regarding the motel incident were blurred, so the “genuine” facts behind what "actually” happened within the walls of the motel, were not entirely consistent or clear. What was fact, was that 3 young men ended up dead and as the film depicts, they were victims of police brutality, prejudice and not to mention a subplot regarding the railroading of an African American security guard, who was used as a scapegoat.
There are quite a few characters involved and the ensemble cast all perform admirably, even though it won't be easy to like some of them. Period detail is realistic and believable, and the film is shot semi-documentary style, which makes for a gritty and raw presentation. Bigelow is one of the best female directors in Hollywood and has been since the late 80's. Here, she presents us with a well balanced and focused film and makes every effort to be as objective and non-biased as possible, which was not an easy task, considering the strong racial theme, the criminal nature of those that are entrusted with upholding the law, and the actions of one young African American male that instigated the incident. The viewer will be left to make up their own mind about what they experience, without feeling as though they have been bludgeoned with a heavy, agenda driven message.
Reviewed by Darren Cunningham - Bond Library