Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Detroit (2017)

Image is property of Annapurna Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Entertainment One

Detroit – Film Review

Cast: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie, Hannah Murray

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Synopsis:  1967,Detroit, USA. With riots threatening to tear the community apart, Police enter a hotel on the hunt for a sniper, which leads to a horrifying ordeal for the residents.

Review: It kind of goes without saying that for a long time that in the United States of America, the issues of racism and police brutality have unfortunately been dominant in American society, and recent events in 2017 certainly indicate that these issues are very much prevalent in modern America, as relevant today as they were half a century ago. As such, to tackle such a tricky and emotional subject for a film requires a director whose previous films have shown she is not afraid to tackle such controversial subject matter, step forward Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow.

Her first film since Zero Dark Thirty, which focused on the hunt for Bin Laden, drew criticism for being almost pro-torture. Furthermore, controversy has arisen over whether Bigelow is the right director to tell this story, but given her immense directorial portfolio, this was never in doubt. However, right from the off, Bigelow throws you right into the heart of the riots and the tensions that were building right across America. With a screenplay from long time collaborator Mark Boal, the tension is there right from the first shot as you watch communities being torn asunder. There was a gritty, almost documentary like manner to which Bigelow told the story of Zero Dark Thirty, and here, she does replicates that method again to tell the story. The script is uncompromising and absolutely brutal when it wants to be. Yet the first act is a little choppy as we’re introduced to a lot of characters which means you’re unsure which characters to really focus on.

It’s at the film’s second act where things really start to get tense and scary. After a prank weapon is fired, the cops descend onto the Algiers Motel and several of the cops led by Philip Krauss (Poulter) begin to terrorise the frightened residents of the motel by demanding who it was that shot what they believed to be sniper fire. As time wears on and no one gives them any answers, the cops take matters into their own hands, and it is not pretty for those residents. The version of events displayed on screen are somewhat dramatised as it is not fully known what actually transpired that night, but Bigelow showed that when it comes to building tension, she is an absolute pro. This is unflinching storytelling and it makes you almost gawk at the screen in horror at what you are witnessing.

Everyone in the film delivers great performances but by far the most standout performance is that of Will Poulter’s Krauss. Right from the moment you meet this horrifyingly bigoted cop, you just know he is bad news for all who get in his path and that includes Algee Smith’s Larry, Anthony Mackie’s as Greene and John Boyega’s Melvin Dismukes a part time security guard who witnesses all of it. After that brutal second act, the film slows down to deliver a brutal gut punch in the third act, but the script could have done with a little bit of polishing to really hammer the point home as the third act does falter a little bit.

However, by the time the credits begin to roll, and the crux of the film reaches its audience, it really will make you sit up and take notice of the problems that have existed in America for the best part of half a century. In that time that you would have thought that humanity might have move forward from that point, that things are still far from perfect with innocent folk, quite often black people, losing their lives to severe unnecessary police brutality to this very moment. It will really give you plenty of food for thought. Though these events took place fifty years ago, there are messages in this movie that are incredibly still relevant in today’s society, and society needs to immediately sit up and take notice.

Uncompromisingly brutal, tense storytelling at its finest/scariest but told with authenticity and care that makes the film’s themes as relevant today as they were 50 years ago.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

All image rights belong to Annapurna Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and Icon productions
Image is property of Annapurna Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and Icon productions

Zero Dark Thirty – Film Review

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Kyle Chandler

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Synopsis: An account of the mission to locate Bin Laden in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001.

Review: From start to finish, this film is very gripping. It starts with a brief flashback to 9/11 via use of the recording of the phone calls that took place on that terrible day. From there, it moves on to “the greatest manhunt in history.” The film leans largely on the intelligence and behind the scenes office work that went into finding the location of the world’s most wanted man at the time. Whilst the opening scenes use some graphic scenes of torture that have attracted a lot of controversy with some critics accusing the film of glorifying torture. In spite of all this, the film gives the viewer a solid depiction of all the events that occurred when the world was hunting for Bin Laden, and it does this very well.

A considerable focus of the film is on Jessica Chastain’s character Maya, a CIA operative who leads the CIA efforts as they sought to capture their number one target. Chastain excelled in her role, and her character development is fantastic to see as she starts the film as a very inexperienced CIA agent. As the film progresses, she becomes a very confident woman and she refuses to let anything get in the way of her goal of capturing and killing Bin Laden.  And as you watch her bury herself in her mission, you hunt for Bin Laden with her. You feel elated for her when she makes a breakthrough in her mission and you feel her pain when she suffers a setback. With so much focus on Chastain’s character and her objectives, the other characters that are in the film suffer from a lack of character development as they get very little screen time to make their mark.

After the 9/11 flashback, the film starts from 2003 with the torture scenes. It touches upon events such as the July 7th bombings, the bomb attack that took place on the Islamabad Marriott Hotel in 2008, the 2009 Camp Chapman attack and leads right the way through to the 2nd of May 2011, the day of the operation that killed the Taliban leader. The final scene is among the most intense scenes that have been filmed in the history of cinema. The viewer witnesses the US Navy seals attack the compound in Pakistan where Bin Laden was hiding. The full extent of the raid on the house is witnessed with the US soldiers killing many of the house’s residents and leads up to the moment when the world’s most wanted man at the time was killed. The subsequent raid of all Bin Laden’s possessions is also witnessed

A film like this must have been very difficult to shoot and while some aspects have been criticised for not portraying certain events in the way in which they actually happened. Kathryn Bigelow does a good job in giving us a deep and powerful film that will certainly leave its mark on the viewer. With Chastain fully deserving of her Oscar nomination for Best Actress among many other accolades, Zero Dark Thirty is a gripping tale of the hunt for the world’s most wanted man and it will leave you with a lasting impression when the film has reached its conclusion.

Pulsating action scenes aplenty, with lots of behind the scenes and edge of your seat stuff, this is a gripping tale of hard work and perseverance.

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