Weekly Movie Review: Detroit

Detroit: One of the year’s best

In America, there are certain topics sure to immediately stir up emotions, often resulting in screaming, shouting and hurt feelings. Abortion, immigration and gun control are some of the most polarizing issues today and that’s not likely to change anytime in the near future or beyond. However, there is one hot button issue that seems to resurface every few months, in some form or another, and not just around election time when politicians use polarizing topics as a lazy way to energize their base. One recently-released flick deals directly with this sensitive issue: race.

Detroit is the story of the 1967 riots in the Motor City, focusing on one deadly incident in particular. The film opens as members of Detroit’s Police Department are in the middle of busting an illegal underground nightclub. This incident sets off the devastating and destructive riots that ultimately pits people against one another simply due to the color of their skin.

With tensions at an all-time high and police patrolling the streets, the Detroit featured in the film looks more like a war-torn city in the Middle East than the USA.  After hearing what appears to be gunfire from a high rise building, a couple members of the Detroit Police Department gather several people in a hotel room for a night of intense, abusive and even deadly intimidation tactics. They are searching for the supposed sniper and convinced that the suspect is someone in the room, the officers will stop at nothing until they get a confession.

Detroit is a nearly two-and-a-half hour film and for most of its runtime, much like the city at that time, maintains a sense that something big, destructive and deadly could happen at any moment. However, the film starts off rather slow, with an unfocused, unclear story line and takes an inordinate amount of time to introduce main characters. The film feels distracted, jumping from place to place, before ultimately settling into the main story.

After finding its footing, the film, due to the excellent direction, develops and keeps an edge-of-your-seat type atmosphere. The film moves along with one tension-filled scene after another, building to and finally resulting in a somewhat disappointing ending.

Detroit is a well-directed film, that it is entirely too long, mainly to its somewhat unfocused story. However, Detroit is a fact-based film that is both entertaining and one of the better films of 2017. 4 out of 5.