Amidst the chaos of the Detroit riots, with the city under curfew and as the Michigan National Guard patrols the streets, three young African American men were murdered at the Algiers Motel.
Kathryn Bigelow has directed some fantastic films. From Zero Dark Thirty, to The Hurt Locker, all the way too the infinitely rewatch able Point Break. That’s a wide ranging body of work. When the trailers dropped for Detroit, it felt like a heavy movie. The events are devastating, and infuriating. Bigelow is no stranger to taking deep, historical material and turning it into a fascinating film. She does that again here.
Detroit was tough to watch, but you had an idea that’d be the case going in. I was prepared to be floored by this movie, and it was on another level. You’ve heard about the sequence at the Algiers Motel and artistically it’s fantastic. The tensions have been rising from watching the riots up to that point, but Bigelow keeps it up there through the whole Algiers Motel sequence. You never have a moment to breathe. You’ll wonder what’s going to happen next. How despicable are the three officers in this situation. Worse than you could ever imagine.
That takes me to the performances, which are world class. Will Poulter has grown a great deal since We’re the Millers. In Detroit he plays an officer who is as disgusting a human being as could be imagined. Poulter was menacing and just has that look to him that is off putting. He was perfect for this role, and his performance was what unsettled you the most. This is the best performance of the year so far. Poulter truly infuriates you. The way his character treats these men will anger you to your core.
John Boyega is a security guard that is thrust into the Algiers situation. He represents the good in a way. You’re watching these events occur through his lens. You feel for him, he’s such a good person and you see the inner struggle he has when these officers handle things the way they do. You see the pain on his face. Boyega did a good job bringing you into the film and making you empathize with him.
Detroit was a heartbreaking film to watch. It’s the kind of movie you’ll watch once, appreciate its greatness and never watch again. It’s a heavy movie. I feel like it’s something you should see at least once. With Bigelow’s terrific direction and world class performances by Boyega and Poulter, this is the first movie of 2017 that should garner Oscar buzz.