Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Kathryn Bigelow's distressing and unflinching look into the Algiers Motel killings during Detroit's 1967 12th Street Riot, is as masterful as it is hard to watch. It's a brutal film to sit through as the director refuses to pull punches or tack on any kind of happy or hopeful ending. As a result the film struggled mightily at the box office despite being a critical success. There are obviously parallels between the story we see unfold and recent events, such as those in Ferguson, Missouri. In 50 years we may not have come as far as we had hoped.

Screenwriter Mark Boal pieced together the script from written accounts and interviews with survivors. Algee Smith leads an exceptional cast as one of many held captive at gunpoint, threatened, beaten, and subject to psychological torture by racist police officers (Will Poulter, Jack Reynor, and Ben O'Toole) and members of the National Guard in the Algiers Motel. The longer the police stay, looking for a shooter that doesn't exist, the deeper the hole they dig for themselves and potential witnesses to their actions.

Detroit isn't likely to be film you will enjoy watching, but its impossible not to applaud what Bigelow, Boal, and the talented cast, including Jacob Latimore, Kaitlyn Dever, Hannah Murray, Anthony Mackie, and John Boyega as a black security guard put in the unwinnable position of helping the racist cops complete their investigation, bring to the screen. I'm hoping that on home video, where it may be easier to digest the unforgivable actions in smaller segments, the film can find an audience to appreciate the cast and crew shinning lights on uncomfortable moments of our past which we haven't yet earned the right to forget.

[20th Century Fox, Blu-ray $34.99 / DVD $29.98]

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