Detroit is a movie that highlights the outbreak of the Detroit Riots and a series of three murders that took place by corrupt police officers at a hotel called Algiers. During the first thirty minutes of the film, the filmmaker drops you into a police bust of a speakeasy, which then boils over into a city wide riot. During these opening scenes, there is confusion and chaos with the riot and it appears the director attempts to recreate that confusion for the viewer, by jumping around from various rioting scenes to documentary footage of the actual unrest. Various characters are introduced during this time, but I was hard pressed to identify a character name or a story. Once the main characters get to the Algiers, however, Detroit becomes a tense, claustrophobic and terrifying experience. Police officers and National guardsmen searching for a sniper, resort to brutality, psychological terror and even murder to try to find the suspect, or get one of the young black males to confess. What makes the situation worse, is that the black males were fraternizing with white women. The film, which is based on true events, is hard to watch and taut with traumatic emotion. You can’t help but see that nothing has changed from 1967 to present day when you read the news and hear about police brutality and killings and seeing police officers acquitted on what appear to be open and shut cases.
Detroit is in your face, and most likely you will leave the film upset, but it is a reality check that shows not much has changed. Story wise, the film was disjointed, but it makes up for it with the intensity of the police interrogation and death game that the officers played on the young black males.