Detroit is finely crafted and quality film. It covers a tough subject: 1967 Detroit Riots, Algiers Hotel incident, racism and hatred.
The team of Kathy Bigelow and Mark Bolan (Hurt Locker 6 AA 9 AAN, Zero Dark Thirty 1 AA 4 AAN) utilize the same approach and style for Detroit as they did with their Academy Award Winners – real time, almost documentary type feel, with little to no grandstanding for a specific agenda.
Unfortunately Detroit does not offer an arms-length view to separate us emotionally from the issue at-hand. Detroit is not set in a distant country with a highly foreign culture. Detroit does not provide a common enemy that is greatly despised. Detroit is here – the U.S. Detroit presents with blunt force the implication and fallout from and lack of overcoming our country’s original sin – Slavery, Black Slavery and its ensuing racism.
Because the story is so well documented, virtually all of the main characters are portrayals of the real person – not a composite character for dramatic effect. Therefore Detroit presents the actual people involved in the situation – and in Bigelow and Bolan style – with little bias. These people are good, bad, innocent, guilty, mischief makers, thieves, prostitutes, racists, poorly trained and ill equipped to deal with the problem, who look the other way, are out of their element and in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Detroit as in life has people who are innocent and will die. People who are jokesters who will pay for their joke with their life. People who do not understand a ruse and kill an innocent person.
Because Detroit follows a straight timeline, the story does not get better as time passes – it only gets worse. There is no feel good ending or silver lining to the story. In fact, the end (the court ruling by a jury) is perhaps most blunt of blunt objects.
The easy thing would be to avoid watching Detroit because of its serious nature, tough to swallow realism, and bluntness. I suggest just the opposite. As each moment passes, I am glad I watched this film and that Bigelow and Bolan had the resolve to make it.
Notes and Worthless Trivia from Jeff:
The sets and costumes in Detroit feel astonishingly accurate. As many of you know, I am picky about this subject in films. So yes, they did miss-spell Livernois Ave. in one scene and an outside scene did not hide a cellphone tower but that is about it. Detroit felt like Detroit in 1967. Quite an accomplishment. Now if I could only go to the GULF and Sunoco gas stations and pay $25 cents a gallon or by some beer at the Oxford Beverage Drive Through on Mack Ave.