Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Detroit’ is Visceral, Brutal, Vital, and Relevant

Detroit

Over the past couple years we’ve seen an increased tension among police and minority communities, with communities taking stands against an escalation of police violence that has led to a number of controversial deaths. It’s been a revival of sort of the kind of societal tension that was present in the turbulent era of the late ‘60s. Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow and her frequent collaborator Mark Boal return to the screen with their haunting depiction of the riots that took place in Detroit during the summer of 1967 with Detroit. It’s a brutal, visceral work of filmmaking that is extremely difficult to watch with its unflinching portrayal of racially motivated police brutality. Detroit is bound to be another controversial from Bigelow and Boal, but one that is vital and relevant to the ongoing political debate about inherent racism in our society and the use of force by police officers.

The film opens with a police raid that sparked the riots that would run through a few days in the summer of 1967. An illegal nightclub is raided before the watchful eyes of the neighborhood, the onlooking citizens outraged. From there, the film takes a chaotic approach to its setup, following all sorts of characters in various situations. Then Detroit starts to settle in on its various threads that will coalesce. We’re introduced to a trio of cops patrolling chaotic streets, Krauss (Will Poulter), Flynn (Ben O’Toole), and Demens (Jack Reynor), with Krauss shooting a looter in the back, an action that will have internally investigate for homicide even though he’s allowed to remain on duty.

Elsewhere, Dismukes (John Boyega) takes his position at a local grocery store where he’ll work as a security guard all night. Not far away, the Algiers Hotel has a bit of a party going on as the city crumbles with the National Guard and the police patrolling the burning streets. The lead singer of the aspiring group The Dramatics, Larry (Algee Smith) and his friend Fred (Jacob Latimore) rent a room at the rowdy hotel, where they’re quickly introduced to two young white women staying there, Julie (Hannah Murray) and Karen (Kaitlyn Dever). When one resident of the hotel decides to give the patrolling cops a scare with a starter’s pistol, it unleashes all sorts of hell when the fearful and enraged police enter the building in search of a sniper’s rifle that isn’t there.

The ugliness and brutality of the events within Detroit are hard to stomach, as each excessive blow is seemingly felt by the audience. The depiction of these particular police officers is sure to raise some controversy for anyone who has ever uttered the phrase “Blue Lives Matter.” Bigelow and Boal aren’t pulling any punches in displaying the horrific aspects of racism within the Detroit Police Department in this shameful chapter in American history. The indifference of the National Guard and Michigan State Police to the escalating events of violent injustice is loathsome to behold, and stirs all sorts of rage within the viewer. That rage never subsides and only reaches its apex when it comes to the trial of the officers involved. All the events of Detroit build into a scathing cinematic indictment of the American criminal justice system and a society that doesn’t value the lives of black Americans.

Because there are so many characters involved in Detroit, the script by Mark Boal doesn’t always give each of the characters an equal level of depth, sometimes to the film’s detriment. Algee Smith’s Larry is a character that stands out because of the depth afforded to the character. Even before he’s being brutalized, we feel the pain of the man as he stands on a stage ready to perform and the event is called off because of the riots. There’s a pained look in his eyes as looks out to an empty auditorium knowing that his dream may never be realized. However, the film really underserves Boyega’s Dismukes and fails to give us a better understanding of his inaction during the horrible siege. Much in the same vein of Boyega’s Dismukes is Anthony Mackie’s Greene, a soldier recently discharged from the Army. These characters could’ve provided valuable insight into the institutional failure that allowed this to occur but Bigelow really places the emphasis on the visceral brutality.

Detroit is a gut-punch of a movie, one that pulls you in to the ugliness lying beneath the American id. It’s not easy to sit through and watch Kathryn Bigelow’s unflinching style at the horrific, ghastly images of black men being brutalized with impunity by those charged with protecting them. That unflinching portrayal will put a lot of people off of Detroit. People on both sides of the political aisle will have trouble digesting the ugly violence at the heart of the film, and both sides will be unsatisfied with the results. Confronting the horrible aspects of nation’s complicated history and Kathryn Bigelow’s intensity doesn’t allow you to look away even when your instincts are pulling your eyes away. Detroit isn’t a pretty or easy story to view, but it’s powerful and vital in the modern context of an ongoing debate surrounding how police serve their communities.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Black Panther Trailer
The Revolution Will Be Televised in the Latest ‘Black Panther’ Trailer

With Thor: Ragnarok ready to blow audiences away in just a...

The Wall
Win a Poster Signed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena, and Doug Liman for ‘The Wall’

The first of two movies released this year from director Doug...

presage flower
Nationwide Theatrical Release of Fate/stay night [Heaven’s Feel] THE MOVIE I. presage flower

TLDR Aniplex of America has released tickets for Fate/stay night THE...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
8.0/10
Review – Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash (PS4)

When was the last time PBS was this exciting? Senran Kagura:...

Save the Light
Cartoon Network Reveals Global Launch of Steven Universe RPG ‘Save the LIght’

Cartoon Network finally announces the global launch of the Steven Universe RPG Save...

Yu-Gi-Oh! Code of the Duelist Special Edition
Kind of Like a Cheat Code – Yu-Gi-Oh! Code of the Duelist Special Edition Review

It’s kind of like using a cheat code without cheating –...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
hello kitty coloring
VIZ Media Releases New Hello Kitty and Friends Coloring Book

VIZ Media expands its catalog with one of the world’s largest...

8.0/10
Red Robin Returns in Detective Comics No. 965…or Does He!?!

Title: Detective Comics #965 Writer: James Tynion IV Penciler: Eddy Barrows...

viz
VIZ Media Announces New Digital Manga Content For August Update

TLDR New Viz Media digital manga updates for August that include...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
GodMode
The Brain Booster Specifically for Gamers – GodMode

For those struggling to get a positive K/Dratio, Boss Level Labs...

Circuit Break
In Yu-Gi-Oh! Dragons Soar and Wires Get Crossed Due to a Circuit Break

Legendary Dragons soar and wires get crossed thanks to Circuit Break...

Legendary Dragon Decks
Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Legendary Dragon Decks Releasing 10/6/2017

Everyone favorite mythological creatures are hitting the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG hard with the...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
AXS TV Closes NJPW’s ‘G1 Climax 27’ With Four Episodes From The Final Weekend Beginning Friday Oct. 13

Los Angeles, CA (Oct. 11, 2017) – “Rainmakers” and “High Fly...

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Rocky Romero has created an auction to raise money for UNIDOS por Puerto Rico Disaster Relief

I’m The costume was worn by Rocky during the final Roppongi...

Douglas Lima Defends his Bellator Welterweight Title Against Rory MacDonald at the Forum on 1/20

LOS ANGELES – One year removed from its previous event at...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Comics on the Can – Double Dragon

Comics on the can Double Dragon Writer – Dwayne McDuffie Pencils...

CULTURAL JUNK DRAWER SDCC 2017 86.3% TRUE RECAP!

A totally true recap of the most important geek cultural even...

Comics on the Can: Schick Hydrobot and the Transformers

Written by John Barber, Pencils by Steve Kurth, Inks by Juan...

Event News Event Reviews
Yu-Gi-Oh! at New York Comic Con
Konami Showcases Yu-Gi-Oh! at New York Comic Con

It’s time to duel! Konami Digital Entertainment showcases Yu-Gi-Oh! at New...

Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience Is Coming to Europe and North America 2018

LOS ANGELES (September 26, 2017) – The critically acclaimed Game of Thrones® Live...

The Third Annual ‘BeerX’ from 91X in San Diego Featured Sunburns and Beer Goggles

This past Saturday, I attended the 3rd annual BeerX, presented by...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

Long Beach Punk Band ‘Spider’ Rocks ‘It’s Not Dead’ Festival

Spider is a heavy hitting punk band out of Long Beach,...

Lahna Turner’s ‘Limeade’ is a Hilariously Haunting Comedy Album

Many people are roll their eyes at the idea of musical...