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Movie Review : Detroit



I walk into Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit with excitement and walked out of with pensiveness and sadness. What I saw is recollection her team recreated during the five days of rioting in Detroit. Three African Americans were killed at the Algiers Motel by the hands of racist police officers. Why I chose the word sadness is due to the fact that specific events such as what happened duirng the trial after the murders is a reminder that justice is still being fought for. Who knows exactly what happened in the hotel and Bigelow did her best to fufill an emptiness that a handful of people have been wondering about. The brutalization is there and sometimes is hard to watch. Not so much the physical beatings but the verbal abuse going on, the words and phrases each victim had to endure for that specific time. When you hear a rifle butt, a gunshot or a slam to the wall, it ignites all your senses. Your eyes can’t get off the screen. It’s crazy how such a simple but stupid mistake can cause a night of living hell along with the five days of survival from the enforcement.

The film mostly focuses on the night of the event. Bigelow doesn’t forget the rioting and she reminds us with a lot stock footage and re-created visuals that gets inside the heart of the streets in Detroit. It’s all an opener to the fury and paranoia townspeople were going through such as a black guy getting shot in the back a racist cop in broad daylight for looting groceries. That information gives it somewhat of a documentary feel, like it’s too good to be a re-creation. Bigelow decided to go with a guerilla/shoulder camera style to get a feel of the tension of victims in the hotel annex. Believe me, there’s tension throughout those couple of sequences. She makes sure we notice the emotions the characters from sweat hanging off a person’s chin, the minor gash on a forehead and hands clenching shakenly with horror. It works most of the time. I wish it could have calmed down during the concert sequence and the choir sequence. Screaming doesn’t stop, shouting doesn’t stop and countless orders do not have positive reinforcement.  The camera work isn’t hard to follow because we are always reminded of what’s at hand and we only hope for the best. The thing that bugged me about this film is certain dialog, especially from the white girls that were hanging around in the motel. I didn’t like responses they were giving to the police officers. Their acting is great but I wish their words a bit more stronger and more in-depth.

Once of my favorite sequences must be the choir scene. Gospel has an effect to the core of a human being and Bigelow did a good job bring that positive chill from the sound to the framing of the people participating in it. It brought a bittersweet closure to my heart but it leaves a constant gap and it’s this: we weren’t taught a lesson by watching this film because events like these happen all too often in the American justice system. The wrong people get away with murder especially when we all know it. It’s sad that we always have to hear people belt out their cries through music when it should be the other way around. I walked out in a downote because this is still happening. We see a disconnection to some of the key characters and loved ones of certain characters. We unfortunate see a downfall of certain characters especially when one goes to prison for something he didn’t do AT ALL and it’s so fucking scary to see that person’s life go to shit. To see him shake and to look afraid is very good acting. You can see begin to stutter and his face tyring to put his thoughts together to find the perfect sentence as a response he’s being suspected for. I won’t spoil the name of the actor because I want you to see that very scene. It’s so tense. I can’t imagine how many falsely accused people went through this. I can’t imagine being beaten or seeing beatings. I can’t even begin to cope the idea that people are dying in events such as the Detroit riots. People get hurt, yes and to a strong degree but for loved one to get killed, it’s something you never want to go through. You don’t know what your negative reaction is. It’s happened for the past year or two and we have to technology to see murder happen on screen and nothing gets done. There’s nore positive turnout so who can be hopeful? Detroit is a strong film because it resonate with our current society, that there’s still people out there who want the worst for certain races until the last gasp of their dying breaths. We are shown a society is torn down the middle with little to no help but watching that should give us that force to continue fighting, to take matters into our own hands.

3.5 / 4

Review By : Ray Salazar


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