The untold story of the 1967 Detroit riots seems all too familiar to me. And it’s really simple; some White law enforcement officers abused their authority to assassinate unarmed Black men.
Even 50 years later, video footage and indictments are not enough to bring these offenders to justice. Statements like, “I feared for my life” are enough evidence to constitute taking someone else’s. And after all of the protests and social media hashtags have disappeared, only the lucky, grieving loved ones receive a civil settlement as an unhandsome reward.
This is a vicious cycle that has become too common.
“Detroit,” starring John Boyega, Will Poulter, Jacob Latimore, and Algee Smith, provides a commercialized account of what happened on a summer July 1967 night. Things turned deadly after officers, including the Detroit Police, National Guard, and Michigan State Police, responded to a possible sniper at a motel.
The cast is phenomenal. So many talented individuals, who, even in smaller roles, had a huge impact on the film. Sixteen recognizable Black actors were a part of this project, such as Anthony Mackie, Jason Mitchell, Samira Wiley, and Gbenga Akinnagbe.
“Detroit” is great, but the film has marginal room for improvement. For example, one of the original members of the singing group, The Dramatics, is a main character and a victim in the incident. As a result, there are more musical performances than I would have ever imagined. The random singing is exorbitant. One or two selections is acceptable, but “Detroit” turns into a lightweight musical. The music hinders the seriousness of the plot.
“Detroit” is a turbulent reminder that things have not changed. The movie also serves as a conversational piece to figure out how do we employ better police officers, provide adequate training, and establish a trustful relationship between law enforcement agencies and its citizens.
I am bothered by the fact that realities like this one are popular and unapologetic. In the same breath, I commend filmmakers for making a movie that creates a dialogue, and may provoke change.
The film opens up nationwide on Aug. 4.
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