Movie Review: Detroit

Today I went to see the film, Detroit, which is an American period crime drama based on the events that occurred at the Algiers Motel in 1967 Detroit.

The film begins by giving a little background on the great migration which is what lead to a lot of black people inhabiting places like Detroit, Illinois, Ohio, New York and etc. The migration stirred up a lot racial tension within those communities and ultimately led to a lack of equal opportunity for black people.

Prior to the incident at the Algiers Motel, there had been riots in the Southside of Detroit for days on end. There was a lot looting and a lot of innocent people being killed while the city was being occupied by the military as it has been deemed a “no man’s land” by Gov. George Romney (Yes, Mitt Romney’s father).

Melvin Dismukes, black man who just wants to stay out of the white man’s way and do anything to appease them. He’d even go out of his way to appease the soldiers and assist the police. He tries to save some of the black youth by intervening when they have issues with the police.

The movie features the group The Dramatics. After leaving their venue and missing out on their performance due to the riots, the group heads out, but decides to split as they did not want to be perceived as a gang. So two of them, Larry Reed of The Dramatics and his friend, Fred Temple ended up at the Algiers Motel. From that point on they were they were pretty much doomed.

The two ended up being a part of a police raid with other black men and two white women who were staying there at the motel. That night ended with 3 people dead and 9 injured. Dismukes Uncle Tom-like behavior gets him hemmed up with the officers who committed crimes against those innocent people that night.

The crimes the officers did go to court, but of course they were ultimately acquitted of their crimes (surprise!!) so no spoilers there. Reed had to go on with his life by facing the lost of his friend and more than likely coping with PTSD. According to end credits, he is still alive and well in Detroit.

As a black person, this movie was and always will be important to me because there are parts of black history that are never touched on in America’s whitewashed textbooks. To some degree I feel like this movie was whitewashed though. This movie definitely hits home for me because just two years ago there were riots in Baltimore for basically the same issue.. Police brutality. Isn’t it crazy how history repeats?

The film was thought provoking to say the least. It made me think should white filmmakers tell the story of black people through their white lens? I felt uneasy when I thought about it because I know that the way the industry is setup a lot of these stories can only be told through a white mouthpiece.

There were moments in the film where I feel like the writers and directors tried to maintain a good balance of good and bad with the white people. There were moments were the black men were being brutally beaten, but then some white savior would come out of nowhere and save them or look out for them.

The movie was about 2 hours long so I can only imagine how much time those people actually spent being held up in that motel by the police that night.

The really crazy part about the movie is that the police never actually found what they came there for. Most parts of the movie were filler because a lot of the information on that night is limited to the janky police investigation and the confessions from the victims.


Overall I would give this film a 4 out of 5.

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