Detroit is a period crime drama based on truth regarding the Algier Motel incident during the Detroit 1967 12th Street Riot. It begins following two characters with professional black R&B group The Dramatics; lead singer Larry Reed and friend Fred Temple who are split up from their friends during the riots and rent a room at Algiers Motel for the night.
Although racial segregation had lawfully ended a few years prior, the relationship between the blacks and whites is still fragile and tensions are high. Larry played by Algee Smith and Fred played by Jacob Latimore fear for their lives when local police visit and abuse their power at the Algier Motel. With an eclectic cast also consisting of John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, John Krasinski and Will Poulter, Detroit made me fearful and angry.
It hurt to see the characters treated so violently, but I know this is only a glimpse of what really happened. Kathryn Bigelow’s vision is so immersive, you really feel like you’re inside the house with the other characters. Although you are frightened with them, the abusive police men thankfully cannot see you.
Will Poulter has the most outstanding performance this film. In real life, Will is super lovely and British, but in Detroit he is so convincing as racist American policeman, Philip Krass that you learn to hate him. I have a new admiration for Will Poulter now, knowing how versatile and talented he is as an actor.
I felt very uncomfortable viewing this film but couldn’t look away. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, invested and wondering who lives, who lies and who dies. Although the true events happened 50 years ago, this film could not be more relevant. If you can stomach it, I highly recommend watching Detroit. It is painful but brilliant.