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Movie Review: #DetroitMovie One of the most important films you'll ever see.

One of the most important films you'll ever see.

RAMA is back.

Even if Kathryn Bigelow’s 3Detroit movie may not purposely intend on pointing out the continued failures of our justice system with regards to police crime in today’s world, it succeeds in doing exactly that. This is a raw and disturbing depiction of an even more disturbing true story that for one reason or another had been stuck as some kind of historical footnote for the past fifty years but it is timely as ever and it’s one of the most important films you’ll ever see.

The director who gave us “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” proves once again, with “Detroit,” that she is not one to run away from controversial subject matter. Written by her frequent collaborator, Mark Boal, “Detroit” is set during the most terrifying civil unrest that rocked the iconic motor city in the summer of 1967. The story zooms in on the Algiers Motel incident involving the death of three black men and the brutal beatings of nine other people including two white women.

Bigelow and her crew apply the famous cinema verité style of filmmaking that allows you to feel like you’re there in that hallway with those victims as their hands and heads are up against the wall, as the cops are beating on them. It doesn’t get more visceral and up-close than this, the cinematography that is in constant motion elevates the intensity because it engages you the viewers and never lets go. Everything about this film is meant to create a sense of discomfort in addition to its trying to also reach some kind of authenticity that comes across as thoughtful and respectful. It’s very hard to watch, definitely not a film for everybody.

Bigelow knows the importance of setting up the context and so the film comes with a prologue that briefly explains the history behind the migration and also the transfer of wealth away from the neighborhood and how the pressure cooker builds up, how the events culminate into an uprising and ultimately this collision between a few racist cops and a few unfortunate young folks. So that way you get a better understanding as to why the collision got to be as violent as it did.

In the roles of the villains, actors Will Poulter, Ben O’Toole and Jack Reynor give performances unlike any other corrupt cops we’ve seen on screen before. Poulter in particular, perfectly embodies what a person would do when he’s on an absolute power trip. Poulter is a remarkable young talent with skills beyond his years. Equally impressive are Jacob Latimore and Algee Smith who play characters traumatized, physically and mentally affected by the incident. Rising star John Boyega plays an African American security guard who’s unwilling to speak out but doing his best to keep anyone from getting shot. Some might see it as complicit or cowardice, he might see it as surviving.

By the way, even though the film’s focus may be on this motel incident or on this Detroit riot, screenwriter Mark Boal manages to make it also be about these individuals, and so you fear for them every passing minute. The production design and the combining of archival footage and actual photos taken from that fateful night make it seems like you’ve been transported to Detroit 1967, this is a film that pays attention to details and goes the distance and does whatever it can to convey what I think it tries to impart to the audience and that is, to me, the relevant theme indicating that if you think our criminal justice system is broken and messed up, if you think inequality is bad today, imagine the cruelty and the unfairness they had to live through some fifty years ago. We as a society have still got a long way to go.

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