Detroit

Out Now On-Demand

Crime drama from Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) set against the backdrop of the 1967 Detroit riots. Stars John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

In the summer of 1967, racial discrimination in Detroit reached breaking point and the city erupted into one of the largest citizen uprisings in US history. Detroit zeroes in on one pivotal event during the civil unrest – the Algiers Motel Incident – a motel raid which spiralled out of control as police interrogated guests, ending in tragedy. An ensemble cast including John Boyega (Star Wars) and Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) portray the real-life people before, during and after this defining moment in their lives.

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Directed by

Written by

Crime, Drama, Thriller, Historical, Festival & Independent

143mins

Rating: R16 Violence, cruelty & offensive language

USA

Kathryn Bigelow's latest is the most disturbing and difficult watch of 2017, and it might just be the year's most important film too. It's a masterful tour de force in high tension filmmaking, anchored by a home-invasion horror style second act that is absolutely excruciating. The brutal terrorising of black civilians by white cops in a Detroit motel is portrayed with a clinical realism, maximising the oppression without wallowing in the violence. That it all actually happened means you can't find solace in reminding yourself it's only a movie.

Before the audience is trapped alongside Detroit's characters in the Algiers Motel on one fateful night in 1967, the events that led up to this are presented, showcasing a city gone mad. The feelings of paranoia and pent-up rage are palpable as we see snippets of rioting and meet a diverse range of characters. It'll be easily identifiable as the work of Bigelow to anyone who's seen Zero Dark Thirty, but it's even more documentary-style and a bit David Simon-esque.

This broad, multi-narrative opening heightens the tight, claustrophobic terror that comes when Bigelow shifts gears once inside the motel. Later, when we're finally out into wider Detroit again for the third act, any relief that could've been hoped for is dashed by the searing fury that comes from the legal aftermath and further injustices it serves up.

This is a story whose potency is amplified by being released now, as the Donald Trump regime emboldens white supremacists and intensifies racial divisions in America. If you want to have a nice time out at the movies, this is not a good idea; but if you believe in the adage that not knowing about history's mistakes dooms us to repeating them, this is an absolute must-see.

Total Film (UK)

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Expect Bigelow's deep-cutting drama to be part of the conversation come awards season.

Vulture

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What Bigelow does - incomparably - is put us in that room with those people at that moment. She induces a feeling of powerlessness that's beyond our capacity to imagine on our own, and she keeps it going...

Empire (UK)

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A gruelling, nightmarish, ferociously vivid riot epic that recreates one of the darkest chapters in American history. Unflinching, unmissable and terrifyingly pertinent.

Los Angeles Times

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Tense, excruciating and entirely necessary...

New York Times

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The film's struggle against simplification - against the sentimentality, wishful thinking and outright denial that defines most Hollywood considerations of America's racial past - is palpable, almost heroic, even if it is not always successful.

TimeOut (US)

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The standoff at the Algiers Motel has entered legend (if not widely known history) as a notorious incident of interrogatory injustice. Bigelow makes it the centrepiece of Detroit and, simply put, has crafted her most harrowing piece of filmmaking.

Variety (USA)

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A drama as powerful as it is timely.

Hollywood Reporter

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Intense and physically powerful in the way it conveys its atrocious events, the film nonetheless remains short on complexity, as if it were enough simply to provoke and outrage the audience. It's a grim tale with no catharsis.

Newsroom.co.nz (Darren Bevan)

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Detroit's searing strength lies in its mid-section execution, an interlude of pure hatred and abuse of power...

A gritty drama that keeps ones attention

Wow! That was a ride and a half. Gritty and worth seeing. So many parallels between life then and life today for sections of the community in America.