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Detroit (2017)

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Fact-based drama set during the 1967 Detroit riots in which a group of rogue police officers respond to a complaint with retribution rather than justice on their minds.

Director:

Kathryn Bigelow

Writer:

Mark Boal
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Popularity
2,087 ( 449)
5 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Chris Chalk ... Officer Frank
Mason Alban ... Police Sergeant James
Bennett Deady Bennett Deady ... Police Officer Bill
Andrea Eversley Andrea Eversley ... Dancer
Michael Jibrin ... Vietnam Vet
Khris Davis ... Blind Pig Patron
Tokunbo Joshua Olumide Tokunbo Joshua Olumide ... Dave
Daniel Washington ... Blind Pig Bouncer
Amari Cheatom ... Undercover Cop
Tyler James Williams ... Leon
Laz Alonso ... Congressman Conyers
Benz Veal ... Nate Conyers
Angel Blaise ... Young Kid #1
Lance Law Lance Law ... Young Kid #2
Jaleel Sanders Jaleel Sanders ... Young Kid #3
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Storyline

A police raid in Detroit in 1967 results in one of the largest RACE riots in United States history. The story is centred around the Algiers Motel incident, which occurred in Detroit, Michigan on July 25, 1967, during the racially charged 12th Street Riot. It involves the death of three black men and the brutal beatings of nine other people: seven black men and two white women.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

racism | 1960s | police | singing | motel | See All (465) »

Taglines:

It's Time We Knew. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and pervasive language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 August 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Detroit: Zona de conflicto See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$34,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$350,190, 30 July 2017

Gross USA:

$16,790,139

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$23,355,100
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Kathryn Bigelow was inspired to unearth this event by the Ferguson (MO) riots (Aug. 2014) where a black man was fatally shot by a white police officer. See more »

Goofs

In one of the interrogation rooms, there is a grounded outlet. Outlets weren't grounded in 1967. However The N.E.C. first mentions grounding receptacles in 1959. Grounding receptacles were required in new work in the 1968 code. See more »

Quotes

Dismukes: [to Lee] I need you to survive the night.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Midnight Screenings: Detroit (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Your Precious Love
Written by Nick Ashford (as Nickolas Ashford) and Valerie Simpson
Performed by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
Courtesy of Motown Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

 
What Happened...Not Why It Happened
2 August 2017 | by bkrauser-81-311064See all my reviews

The poster of Annapurna's newest film, Detroit hangs at my local theater like a provocation. A thin blue line of police officers struggles to hold back angry black protesters as big bold letters are scrawled along the side. The tagline reads: "It's time we knew." Those words, along with the required "from the creators of..." accolades are the only things on the poster that aren't sideways.

They might as well be though, considering the 1967 Detroit riot is about the only thing about Detroit most Americans know. And I'm sad to report that while the film does a good job of filling the screen with a few powerful moments, it never provides much insight into the "untold" story of the Motor City or how its story fits into the larger context of modern racial relations.

After an awkward Jacob Lawrence inspired history of the Great Migration, the film captures the precipitating actions of police that turned the city's long sitting racial resentments into a lit tinderbox. In a hybrid of dramatization and archival footage, Detroit then glosses over the actions taken by the state to subdue tensions before setting its sights on a host of singular stories. It becomes high noon at the Algiers Motel where unarmed black teens face off against white police and National Guardsmen. Then comes the trial.

All of these events could have been their own movies and delved into deeper depths as to the cause, devastation, aftermath and public perception of what was later dubbed the black days of July. Yet because Mark Boal's screenplay is so laser-focused on documented events and momentary minutia, everything is squished into an off-kilter collage of well-meaning but superficial docudrama. One whose central story, the Algiers Motel incident, is treated more like a genre horror film than either a granular traumatic event or police brutality in microcosm.

Detroit basically pulls a Dunkirk (2017), building unbelievable tension while giving us the bear minimum in character. It's all about the situation and the situation only. The recreation of which is beyond reproach. However, Detroit's grand design creates a narrative dissonance. One in which the individual experiences of real people just don't translate all that well.

The problem is compounded further by Barry Ackroyd's unvarnished cinematography which cuts between extreme closeups of wounded faces, voyeuristic overheads and wide shots of crowds angrily gathering in the streets. The lack of establishing shots, aerials, use of recognizable landmarks etc. hammers home the idea that something like this can happen anywhere. But the question, why can it happen anywhere, remains illusive up until we here the words "police criminality should be treated the same as criminality." By then it's too little too late.

Luckily director Kathryn Bigelow is very adept at inserting humanity within the margins saving Detroit from being just another Patriot's Day (2016). She finds a particularly redemptive subject in Algee Smith as up-and-coming Motown singer Larry Reed. The young actor displays an emotional intelligence well beyond his years, formulating a character that starts out with youthful swagger, ends with a shaken core, putting you in his head-space at all points in-between. Additionally, while most of the films attempts to color opposing forces with shades of grey fall flat, Reed's arc feels tragic but sadly understandable given the circumstance.

Unfortunately for both Bigelow and the city of Detroit, Detroit's script casts too wide a net to be especially impacting. It's procedural approach stifles the emotional stakes and its over-arching theme is turned in with much less humanity and passion than is deserved. Even with a towering performance by Algee, and the inclusion of Will Poulter who plays menacing/in-over-his-head real well, Detroit just can't transcends its trappings. To add insult to injury, the film itself was shot primarily in Boston...so there's that...


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