Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Hannah Murray, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith
Empire:4 Stars Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
What was Detroit about?
Detroit centres around the 1967 Detroit’s riot that begun the early morning hours of Sunday, July 23, 1967, with a police raid of an unlicensed after-hours bar, known as the Blind Pig. The raid leads to police confrontation with patrons and observers on the street violently confronting the police which went on to escalate into a full-blown riot.
Detroit goes deeper to explore a horrific incident that occurred in the Algiers Motel, during the Detroit riots where a number of young black civilians were terrorised (and more) by members of the Detroit police force (you will have to watch the film to find out what happens, it’s not positive). Detroit gives you a snapshot of the characters involved in the incident at three different stages in the riots when their lives were seemingly “normal” (for the time), during the riots when their lives are disrupted and after the riots when their lives have been completely changed.
What has the director of Detroit done before? Kathryn Bigelow, is one of the most famous female directors out there, making history in 2010 for being the first woman to win the best director Oscar for her film The Hurt Locker, about the heroism of bomb disposal teams serving in Iraq. Her previous films include Point Break, Strange Days and K-19: The Widowmaker. Kathryn Bigelow has been a female pioneer in the world of action and thriller movies, which traditionally have been dominated by men.
How does Detroit relate to the real world?
You only have to type in “police brutality in the US” into Google (3,990,000 results) to understand how much Detroit, unfortunately, still relates to the world we live in today but more specifically in the US. Black males in the US aged 15-34 are nine times more likely than any other Americans to be killed by law enforcement. There have been numerous viral videos of black men being killed on camera, which is shocking when you think that some of the footage was captured on Facebook Live, meaning that it’s such a regular occurrence that you can catch the moment live.
Detroit makes you ponder the systemic abuse that takes place in America and also understands why people are so angry, rightly so, this police brutality has been happening unchecked for years on end.
Who gave the best performance?
Surprisingly, a large amount of the cast was made up of British actors, with John Boyega, playing the timid security guard Dismukes and Will Poulter with his pointy eyebrows playing the corrupt police officer Krauss. Even Hannah Murray makes an appearance as good time girl Julie, you may remember her as Cassie from Skins or more recently as Gilly on Game of Thrones. Between them, they hold the film together. However, the American cast who weren’t on the top billing who play the teenagers in the Algiers motel gave the most heart-wrenching performances as you can feel their fear and also get a profound sense of their hopes and dreams. A shout out has to go to out to Algee Smith who was brilliant as Larry a young member of the singing group The Dramatics who gets caught up in terror at the Algiers Motel.
Was Detroit as good as the critics say?
Detroit is as good as the critics say it is, with Simon Crook of Empire stating that Detroit Is “A gruelling, nightmarish, ferociously vivid riot epic that recreates one of the darkest chapters in American history. Unflinching, unmissable and terrifyingly pertinent” and Owen Gleiberman of Variety stating that “This is no comforting drama of social protest. It’s closer to a hair-trigger historical nightmare, one you can’t tear yourself away from.”.
Detroit was so brutal in its portrayal of the events during the Algiers Motel incident and of the 1967 riots itself that you are left at the edge of your seat the whole time which is why there is an overall consensus among critics and non-critics alike.