Detroit Review

Updated on January 22, 2018
Ross Tanenbaum profile image

Ross is a student at the University of Maryland. He is planning on majoring in Film Studies and English.

A deeply unnerving true story which is still painfully relevant

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During the 1960s, there were many horrific events that occurred during the civil rights movement. Some of these are very well known, like the 16th street church bombing, while others didn't get the publicity that they deserved. One of these events occurred at the Algiers Motel during the riots in Detroit. I was honestly unaware of what happened here and I am happy that this movie revealed this event to people who may not have known about it.

Plot

In the summer of 1967, riots broke out through much of Detroit. In these riots, there were many collisions between the police and African Americans. Many people were protesting the police brutality that were afflicting these communities. One night, after hearing a gunshot from the Algiers Motel, the police storm the building and interrogate the people who were staying in the motel. The people in the motel faced a night of horror created by a group of racist cops who took the law into their own hands.

Pros

Detroit is a very tense movie. Director Kathryn Bigelow does a fantastic job at building tension and making the film really sink in for the audience. It can be hard at times to watch, but Bigelow makes it more impactful. The sequence in the hotel has a lot of moments that are shocking and upsetting. Bigelow does a great job at making the characters and the audience seem helpless in this situation. She uses a lot of close ups that makes the room feel very condensed, which creates an uncomfortable mood.

I also really liked how Bigelow set the scene for this movie. The sets, costume design, and music choice really brings it back to the period where this movie takes place. Even the dialogue is relevant to the time period of this movie.

The suspense is only heightened by the performances. This film has a very large cast but everyone does a really good job. Jason Mitchell, who played Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton, is really good. Jacob Latimore also gives a really great performance. Anthony Mackie proves that he can handle more dramatic roles. John Boyega plays an african american cop who has to witness police brutality and gives a very reserved performance but you understand why he can't do a lot to help.

One actor who has been impressing me a lot with his acting is Will Poulter. He plays a really racist, violent cop and he is really good. His character is so easy to hate and Poulter really helps to make the audience hate this character. He does some evil things in this movie, but he thinks that he is justified in his actions, which makes him even more despicable.

Cons

I think that this movie is a bit too long. The main focus of the movie is the sequence in the Algiers Motel, but it takes about 45 minutes for the sequence to begin and then once the sequence ends, there is still about another 30 minutes of the movie. The film does drag a bit towards the end because it seemed like the movie was ending but there is still a trial sequence after the motel section ended. It seems like the film was made to be about the motel sequence, but didn't really know how to set up everything else around it. It takes a bit too long to set up and a bit too long to end.

Final Thoughts

Detroit is a very powerful movie. It shares a story that not many people know about, but will definitely leave an impact on people who learn about this. It can be horrifying at times, but it only helps to emphasize the gravity of the situation. It may be a little bit too long, especially towards the end, but this movie still left an impact on me. It reveals the horrors of racism that was relevant in the 1960s and is, unfortunately, still relevant today.

Rating: 8.5/10

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