"Detroit" Non-Spoiler Review
Occasionally, there's a movie that comes out that makes you think "I gotta see it, but I know I'm not going to have an awesome time while watching it." Detroit is that kind of movie. You're not going to be necessarily comfortable while watching it, and you're not going to walk out with a huge smile on your face, but it's a movie that you have to see. And I'm not saying you have to see it just because "it's uncomfortable", no, you have to see it because it's a story that needs to be told. It's a story that people need to know about. Now as for the movie itself, it's good. It has some issues, sure, but it's a solid movie.
At its core, Detroit is about a group of racist cops who terrorize a group of black and white motel guests during the riots that took place in 1967. But there's a lot more to the movie than that. There's a long set up at the beginning of the movie. We go through this weird animation type deal (which I felt was out of place) that educates us on the rising tension in Detroit, and then we're slowly introduced to each character that will ultimately end up in that motel. The goal of this sequence is to help us get to know each character, and to hopefully get us to like them so we care for them later on. Unfortunately, the film ultimately fails at achieving this as later in the film when we should care for each of the characters...we really don't. I'm not saying that we don't care about what happens to the characters, but I'm saying we don't feel the impact that I believe Kathryn Bigelow intended us to feel. I think she wanted us to get attached to certain characters and then really feel something when their life is put on the line. And we do feel helpless and horrified when the story reaches its climax, but it's not because we are attached to a certain character as much as it is us caring for the group as a whole. And maybe I'm misinterpreting Bigelow's intentions and I felt exactly what she wanted me to, but if so then the first hour or so of the movie is largely inconsequential. It could have easily been cut down to 20 minutes or so and I would have gotten the same feeling at the climax.
So the beginning of the movie isn't the best, but what about the rest? The climax, or the half-way point of the movie, is where the main story starts. All of the characters finally end up in the motel, and the police eventually converge on the motel due to the suspicion that there is a sniper inside. This leads to about 45 minutes or so of pure intensity. The stakes are high, and the consequences are even higher. This portion of the film will be hard to watch for some people, but the graphic realism Bigelow employs is absolutely necessary. It'd be a shame if she danced around the true brutality of the situation, but luckily she doesn't. You'll be on the edge of your seat for the entirety of this portion of the movie, but you'll actually feel relieved when it's all over.
That brings us to the ending, and I truly do wish that I could end this review on a good note, but I cannot. The ending of this movie drags, and drags, and drags. It felt like it was never going to end, if I'm being honest. And then to top it off, I felt that the ending was, well, not good.
So at the end of the day, Detroit is a film that has a great story sandwiched between two blocks of unnecessary fluff. I still believe that everyone should see it, but it is not a film without flaws. I give Detroit an 81%.