Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

25 February 2018


There was a lot that I liked about Detroit, but despite having lots of things going for it, doesn't really work after its first act. The script, by Mark Boal, has a lot of problems, but Kathryn Bigelow's direction is just stellar, and Detroit has some great performances in it, too.

The screenplay is just all over the place. It can't focus for long enough to do the work it needs to do. Then when it does focus (in its second act) it is far too focused on black suffering to get its point across. The whole thing winds up feeling exploitative after a while, as though it is attempting to take pleasure in the violence it shows. It seems to me that this was plainly not the goal of the film, and the way the film is set up, it appears to be trying to do something else, but as Detroit hones in on its second act torture-fest, it also leaves behind the very intelligent analysis it had been doing in act one. And this is a very serious flaw.

I want also to go on record that I am not sure I understand filmmakers' interest in John Boyega. He has yet to be interesting in a movie, as far as I can tell. He is incredibly boring in this movie. But Jacob Latimore, Algee Smith, and Anthony Mackie are all absolutely great. And I loved Jason Mitchell. He is superb in this.