“Detroit” takes place in 1967 during the Detroit riots. Racial tensions had reached a fever pitch, resulting in looting, setting fires all over the city, and violence. The city looked like Syria today! The situation was so out of hand that the State Police and National Guard were called in to get the chaos under control.
The movie doesn’t give much background as to what sparked the city to erupt, but rather focuses on a true incident at “The Algiers Motel,” which served to symbolize and expose the racism and police brutality prevalent in the city at that time.
The Detroit police and State Police were near The Algiers Motel when shots were fired. Suspecting a sniper, a sadistic and racist Detroit policeman, Philip Krauss (William Poulter), and his partners enter the hotel and round the “suspects” up. Essentially, Krauss and his partners brutally assault the innocent 7 black men and 2 white women that had the misfortune to be there at the time. The two white women were taunted and humiliated about having any sexual interest in black men. For reasons unrevealed, a black security guard and relative of one of the black men, Melvin Dismukes (John Boyega), passively stood by and watched the whole bloody scene unfold.
After the incident, the film briefly informs us about the investigation afterwards and the result of the trial of the policemen involved. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the film is very intense, violent, dark, and disturbing, but way too long. Thirty minutes could have easily been cut and it would have made the film better. I think Poulter was terrific, although other reviewers seem to disagree. The film is definitely worth seeing for its historical significance, but you won’t be in a good mood after it. I recommend you have dinner first, because you won’t have any appetite afterwards.