ON SCREEN // HOP FILM
Kathryn Bigelow’s (Zero Dark Thirty) searing drama about the 1967 Detroit race riots, starring Jon Boyega.
Often when Hollywood gives us a portrait of racial injustice—Hidden Figures and Loving serve as recent examples—it is a parable of moral darkness tempered by hope. But Kathryn Bigelow’s (Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker) sweeping, scalding drama about the Detroit riots that took place 50 years ago (July 1967) is no comforting drama of social protest. “It’s closer to a hair-trigger historical nightmare, one you can’t tear yourself away from” (Variety). With a script by regular collaborator Mark Boal and a riveting ensemble (Jon Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Jon Krasinski), Bigelow’s live-wire panorama of race in America gradually shifts to a hostage thriller unfolding at the Algiers Motel, where those who make it out alive are still not “free.”
The film’s white-knuckle intensity fuels outrage at the racial injustice portrayed, but Bigelow is careful not to divide protagonists and antagonists along racial lines. Rather, Detroit demonstrates how the problem is both systemic and perpetuated by individuals’ choices—and still no closer to being solved, 50 years later.
D: Kathryn Bigelow, US, 2017, 2h23m