Taglines: It’s time we knew.
The race riots that occurred in the predominantly black Victoria Park neighborhood of Detroit in late July, 1967 are presented. The riots began on July 23 following a raid on an unlicensed after hours black club serving liquor in celebration for just returned black soldiers from the war. The confrontation between the black populace of the neighborhood and police escalated with increasing action on both sides, those actions including burning and looting in the neighborhood on the public side, and the setting of curfews and calling in the National Guard to assist by Michigan Governor George Romney.
The movie focuses on a situation on the evening of July 25 in the Algiers Motel, where the authorities, led by the Detroit Police Department, were searching for a supposed sniper firing at the authorities, the motel which should have been a place of sanctuary away from riots happening outside the motel walls. The individuals at the motel that evening include the following. White DPD Officer Phillip Krauss has his own moral stance where he will do whatever required to exact his form of justice, which included the day before mortally shooting a black looter in the back as he was running away unarmed.
That incident the day before colors the way Krauss now handles such confrontations. A singular white National Guardman on the scene knows the volatility of the situation based on the patrolmen’s actions, but does whatever he can to keep those being interrogated alive while not stepping on the toes of the police. Melvin Dismukes is a black part-time security guard who does whatever he can to diffuse the situation all in an effort for the black populace to survive whatever given situation at the time.
Larry ‘Cleveland’ Reed, the lead singer for the Dramatics, and his friend Fred Temple took refuge at the motel after a gig which could have been the Dramatics big break was canceled at the last minute due to the riots, which left them outside after curfew. Carl Cooper, a resident at the motel, wanted white people to feel the fear black people felt every day at the hands and more specifically guns of the police. Greene, a black man, is a recently decommissioned soldier, who is solely in Detroit trying to find a job. And Julie Ann and Karen are two young white women from Ohio staying at the motel, they who have no issue in partying with the predominantly black residents and other guests at the motel.
Detroit is a 2017 American period crime drama film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal. Based on the Algiers Motel incident during Detroit’s 1967 12th Street Riot, the film’s release commemorated the 50th anniversary of the event. The film stars John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell, John Krasinski and Anthony Mackie.
Detroit premiered at the Fox Theatre, Detroit, on July 25, 2017, and began a limited theatrical release on July 28, 2017, before opening wide on August 4, 2017. The film received positive reviews from critics, with particular praise towards Bigelow’s direction, Boal’s script and the performances of Boyega, Poulter and Smith but was a box office failure, only grossing $21 million against its $34 million budget.
About the Story
On July 23, 1967, the Detroit police stage a raid on an unlicensed club during a celebration for returning black veterans. While suspects are being arrested, a mob forms and starts throwing rocks at the officers before looting nearby stores and starting fires, beginning the 12th Street Riot. With civil authorities, elected representatives, and even emergency services unable to maintain any semblance of order, Governor George W. Romney authorizes the Michigan National Guard and Army paratroopers to enter Detroit in order to provide assistance. On the second day of rioting, two cops pursue a fleeing looter. One of them, Philip Krauss, kills the man with a shotgun against orders, but is allowed to remain on active duty until his superiors can decide whether to file murder charges.
The Dramatics, a professional black R&B group, arrive in Detroit hoping to score a recording contract. Seconds before their scheduled performance at a music hall, the police shut down the venue and order them to leave the city. En route, their bus is attacked by rioters and the group subsequently splits up, with lead singer Larry Reed and his friend Fred Temple renting a room at the local Algiers Motel for the night. They meet two white girls, Julie Ann and Karen, who introduce them to their friends Carl Cooper and Aubrey Pollard. Carl and another friend stage a prank using a starter pistol, upsetting Julie and Karen, who move to the room of Greene, a Vietnam War veteran, while Larry and Fred return to their own room.
Melvin Dismukes, a private security guard, is assigned to protect a grocery store from looters and ingratiates himself with the Guardsmen. Carl decides to fire several blanks from his pistol in the direction of the troops to frighten them, but they mistake it for a sniper attack and open fire on the Algiers. A detachment of police arrive, led by Krauss, who guns down Carl when he tries to escape and plants a knife next to his body as he bleeds out and dies.
Accompanied by Dismukes and some Guardsmen, the police round up everyone in the hotel and line them against the wall, demanding to know who the shooter was. Despite Dismukes failing to find any weapon during a search of the room, Krauss terrorizes and orders several suspects to be moved to different rooms and subjected to mock executions as part of a “game” to terrify the others into confessing. Unwilling to get involved, most of the Guardsmen and soldiers leave without informing anyone of Krauss’s abuse.
Julie and Karen are taken to an upstairs room when they begin screaming, and Julie’s clothes are torn off. Disgusted, Dismukes and a Guardsman manage to get them released from custody. Aubrey is killed during his interrogation by one of the remaining police officers, and Krauss, fearing arrest, permits the remaining suspects to leave, but only if they swear to keep silent. Greene and Larry agree, but Fred is killed when he refuses.
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Mason Alban, Bennett Deady, Michael Jibrin, Tyler James Williams, Angel Blaise, Jaleel Sanders, Lance Law, Laz Alonso, Benz Veal, Andrea Eversley
Screenplay by: Mark Boal
Production Design by: Jeremy Hindle
Cinematography by: Barry Ackroyd
Film Editing by: William Goldenberg
Costume Design by: Francine Jamison-Tanchuck
Set Decoration by: Dennis Colvin, Kathy Lucas
Art Direction by: Greg Berry, Jim Wallis
Music by: James Newton Howard
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and pervasive language.
Distributed by: Annapurna Pictures
Release Date: July 28, 2017