A police raid in Detroit in 1967 results in one of the largest RACE riots in United States history. The story is centred around the Algiers Motel incident, which occurred in Detroit, Michigan on July 25, 1967, during the racially charged 12th Street Riot. It involves the death of three black men and the brutal beatings of nine other people: seven black men and two white women.
Unless you believe the Black Lives Matters movement has unanimous appeal, do not expect the reviews of Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit” to garner universal praise. By no means does this movie play it safe and, for that reason, it does not seek or expect mass appeal. I suspect that the film will unleash fierce critics of “Hollywood Liberal Bias” and generate howls from those who want to remind us that most cops really are good as well as others who are equally vocal and can’t stomach seeing more non-threatening citizens brutally murdered by policemen of a different stripe.
“Detroit” is a movie that is set in 1967 but it is a statement about the type of policing that continues to occur far too frequently in many African American communities. Just as it is not possible to talk about the recent events in Ferguson, NYC, Minneapolis,Baltimore, Chicago, Charleston, Cleveland etc., etc. without expressing a particular point of view, “Detroit” will also reveal many pf our biases as we process the portrayal of the searing events as they may have occurred at the Algiers Motel in the midst of a race riot.
“Detroit” will also force us to talk about our preferences for films that move and disturb us over those that simply entertain and the amount of “historical accuracy” we expect to see in non- documentaries that are set in earlier times.
Bigelow shoots the movie with an unflinching eye and her point of view is obvious. She errs on the side of the cringe worthy and outrageous when depicting evil and the actors are committed, inspired and superbly directed.
“Detroit” is a film that is as difficult to watch as any two hour merciless tragedy involving people we know and care about and it is deeply stirring as it incites (if not assaults) our emotions. This is a stunning film but well crafted art, like our own reflections in the finest of mirrors, isn’t always pretty.
“Detroit” intends to upset, provoke and unsettle and, by that account, it is an unmitigated success.