It's Time We Knew

Upended poster for the historical drama DetroitDirector Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal follow their movies about U.S. military intervention in Iraq (The Hurt Locker) and Afghanistan (Zero Dark Thirty) with a story about civil conflict at home: the July 1967 rioting in Detroit and, more specifically, the killing of three black men by police at the city’s Algiers Motel.

The retelling of the Algiers incident, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses, takes up the middle third of the narrative, and it’s brutal and intense – rarely has the racist abuse of power been rendered so effectively onscreen. The filmmakers are slightly less successful at explaining the social context of the riot or portraying the aftermath of the violence, though these shortcomings are mitigated by the strong performances, particularly from John Boyega as a black security guard whose sense of professional duty overpowers his sense of morality.

– Tai Rosenberg, The Chicago Reader

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