Glorifying discrimination has become a money-maker for film production companies. The latest, Detroit, looks at the horrible story of police brutality in the late 1960s when the city of Detroit, Michigan was in unrest, rife with riot.
It’s hard to understand what makes a Director or Production Company want to make money from the misfortune of others. Especially when the topic of racial discrimination or discrimination as a whole is still so topical.
On the other hand if the story of police brutality against young African-Americans in the 1960s is going to be glorified it seems fair the film maximise its full potential to give justice to those who lived the ordeal. With that said, Detroit does not reach anywhere near what it should have done in telling this horrible story. As such, Detroit is an embarrassing money making film that does not serve justice rather offer yet another film about the injustices of the world and make the production company some money.
Detroit was Directed by Kathryn Bigelow who directed Zero Dark Thirty and Hurt Locker. For the most part there’s no denying Bigelow has a keen eye for telling a good story, especially with war themes. However while Hurt Locker had a good story line it also had some great action and adventure (if it’s fair to call it that). But this method of telling a story hasn’t been seen in any of her more recent works. Detroit falls into the latter whereby the execution of Detroit is slow and stretched out and at some points confusing.
In the summer of 1967 The Unites States of America was at war in Vietnam and there was a growing political and social unrest on American soil. A discrimination and race disparity surrounding housing and education was intensified as the number of unemployment in African-America communities grew. While in lockdown shots are heard which sent the National and State Police as well as the National Guard to an annex of a local hotel. While the “gun” was never found a number of police forcefully interrogated suspects in hope of information. As the interrogation intensified, three men were shot dead with several other men and women brutally beaten.
While this sounds like a straightforward story line it’s dotted with little insights to each of the main characters that eventually come together. While this is important to build relationships for the viewer to feel a connection to the story, it was somehow lost along the way. There is the band of motown singers trying to break into the industry but miss their chance only for two of them to get mixed up in the drama. We don’t get to understand or feel where their drive comes from to make it big. Which makes it hard to understand the hardship after the ordeal.
There are two young white girls who are travelling or possibly running away from their life in another city, only to get mixed up in the police brutality. It’s never clearly explained why they left or how they have come to be in a city of unrest. And then there’s a security guard who just happens to force himself in the situation. But it’s never understood why he’s there or how he got to be in such a situation. While all the characters are met before the drama unfolds the back-stories are so vague and emotionless it makes the horrific police brutality not as intense or dramatic as it should have been.
There are a number of other problems with this film and the way it was told. This isn’t to say the story itself isn’t one that should be told; it’s more that this version of the events that took place on that horrible night do not serve those involved justice. There is a use of old black and white footage that makes it hard to ascertain if the viewer is in the 1960s or watching a documentary. The introduction was a simple cartoon telling the story of how the African-American’s came to live in the cities after leaving the cotton fields. But it didn’t match the style of the remainder of the film.
Overall this film is long and stretched out and in all hasn’t managed to capture the story the way it should have been told. Director Bigelow was the wrong choice for such a film and clearly only has an eye for war stories rather than that of building a connection between character and audience. While the performances are outstanding it’s a shame that they weren’t given a chance to settle in, for there was nothing for them to sink into.
Review by Jay Cook