McCann At The Movies: ‘Detroit’ – A Tough But Essential Piece Of Filmmaking

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‘Detroit’ is an emotional and gut-wrenching movie from one of Hollywood’s finest directors says our movie critic, John McCann…

The latest feature from Kathryn Bigelow – the Academy Award winning director with a rich back catalogue which includes ‘The Hurt Locker’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ – tells the gripping true story of one of the darkest moments during the civil unrest that rocked Detroit in the summer of ’67.

Amongst the chaos of the rebellion, and with the city under strict curfew, this story is centred around an incident at the Algiers Motel, which occurred during the racially charged 12th Street Riot – one which the Detroit News called, “one of the haunting tragedies of Michigan’s long history”.

Continued below…



Bigelow has proved in the past that she is a more than capable set of hands in dealing with intense and unnerving subject matter and this compelling drama is no exception.

Making for a difficult watch throughout, this harrowing film exudes extreme anger, hatred and tension to leave the viewer sifting uncomfortably in their seats for the duration of the 144 minute running time.

Barry Ackroyd’s cinematography makes this an almost interactive experience, as he immerses the audience right in the middle of the chaos and violence, with the blending of archival news footage with Bigelow’s dramatization of the events, it brings a real sense of authenticity and brutal reality of the situation to the film.

The cast do an impressive job also, with John Boyega and Will Poulter in particular, acquitting themselves quite well and proving that the talent pool runs deep in Hollywood at present.

What is most striking about this film however, is the timing and importance of it, as Kathryn Bigelow, by unearthing our brutal past holds a dark mirror up to the violent present.

Despite the fact that this film takes place 50 years ago it is, in fact, a more socially and morally relevant piece than any of this talented director’s works to date.

Even a weak third act can’t detract from an highly emotional, socially horrific and gut wrenching piece of film making that, although is deeply upsetting at times, is no less essential cinema. Compelling.


For more of John McCann’s movie reviews, check out his Facebook page here and website here

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