Tense, riveting if a little long at the tooth.

Fact-based drama set during the 1967 Detroit riots in which a group of rogue police officers respond to a complaint with retribution rather than justice on their minds.

The animated opening credits sequence about African migration during WW1 and WW2 was a little disjointed. The important issue was the overcrowded African American ghettos in the 60s.

The focal point of this piece. The growing frustration and rocky tension captured perfectly during a botched raid at an unlicensed nightclub.

You could have cut the tension with a knife as the white police officers tried to prevent unrest by arresting suspects away from the Main Street.

An attempt that proved pointless as the crowds gathered and the violence began. I loved how director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal looked at both sides to this disheartening affair.

You supported the forces during the initial looting and rioting. BUT by day two, they completely mishandled the situation. Beating and shooting looters for stealing food?

And let’s not forget, the trigger happy military looking for any excuse. Shooting at a child in a fifth storey building after mistaking her for a sniper. Horrendous.

I was really surprised and impressed at the British/Irish talent involved; Jack Reynor (Sing Street), John Boyega (Attack The Block) and Hannah Murray (Skins).

BUT Will Poulter stole the show for me. He played the shady Krauss brilliantly. The Son of Rambow star has come a long way. A complete change in direction from the comedy circuit and a mature performance.

Hell, those brows made him look evil. As a side note, if there is going to be a solo Joker movie (without Leto); this guy deserves a look in, surely?

Krauss’ decision making and inability to accept blame was frustrating, to say the least.

I loved the contrast between Krauss and Dismukes (Boyega). One going out of his way to cause destruction, the other doing his best to keep the peace.

Dismukes was an interesting character. A man just trying to do his job and avoid bloodshed. Branded an “Uncle Tom” of the streets for not rising up.

Crossing between the bordered up store fronts and military barricades to offer assistance where he could. I just wish there was more of that.

As much as I enjoyed the Dramatics’ Motown music and felt for them as they missed the gig of a lifetime due to rioting, the pace did test. The only thing I found Bigelow movies (of late) suffering from.

The middle act was where I could feel my interest wading. Don’t get me wrong. The cast involved with the Dramatics were brilliant and Algee Smith (Earth to Echo) had a fantastic voice!

I just felt the motel mingling, Coltrane talk and white power discussions meandered the piece. That was until a silly prank with a start-up pistol set off so much more.

The next hour, I was shocked and transfixed as Krauss’ team made one gruesome mistake after another.

The pressure mounting as they struggle to find a suspect or a gun. I will always commend Bigelow for delivering nail-biting suspense; Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker, Point Break (What?)

Regular Bigelow stalwart Barry Ackroyd’s grainy cinematography certainly brought a little more realism to it BUT the shaky cam (Like The Hurt Locker) was incredibly disorienting and erratic in places.

There was only so much yelling, swearing (and dropping of the N bomb) and gospel singing I could take as the hold-up reached breaking point.

The sick interrogation tactics had me on tenterhooks. Putting knives near the “suspects” as a ploy to use the “act of self-defence”. Horrifying.

Hannah Murray was surprisingly good. I’m used to seeing her playing drugged up or gormless protagonist.  You felt for her character as she was accused of being a prostitute for having no standards for sleeping with black men.

I didn’t expect to see Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Civil War) pop up in this as Krauss’ “prime suspect”. A war vet who escaped one war zone to join another. The punishment he received was mortifying. Desperately goading him into reacting.

The pace did test BUT the main thing I was disappointed with was Boyega. He is a great actor BUT his character grew increasingly passive as the film reached its shocking conclusion. His presence fading further into the background.

If not for a gruelling police investigation (A mockery in itself) after the Algiers Motel, I would have deemed his character unnecessary. Another bystander.

BUT the aftermath of The Algiers Motel was where it hit home.

The court scenes were infuriating. The injustice of it all as the cops strolled out the court house smirking. The legal system taking the side of the ones who were supposed to be protecting NOT abusing it. Regardless of the facts and accounts.

The abrupt finale went out with a whimper. BUT that was kind of the point.

I couldn’t believe the post-credit titles at what happened to the people involved. The case never really given true justice.

I can’t say it’s a good film (in the context of what it was about) BUT it delivered an atmospheric thriller with substance that is worth your attention.




Richard Linklater brings us his most ambitious, and longest, project to the big screen with . . . mixed results. An intriguing, if overhyped, concept works as a great marketing tool but also delivers a good story with a great cast. However, despite offering a different and interesting viewing experience, it soon borders on pretentious as the second hour passes.

We follow our lead character Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he grows up and battles with abusive stepfathers, negligent fathers and continuous moves across the state. The first half of the film was an engaging, slow burning look into young Mason’s life as he endures boyhood. It was great to see the same cast over the 12 year gap. It was a nice change and helped get rid of those continuity gaffs that always irritate me in movies. Coltrane is a likeable and talented lead across the years, which always helps in such an ambitious project.

However, Mason suddenly ages or the story skips a few years without any warning or marker. If it wasn’t for the fact the soundtrack spanned my childhood, I wouldn’t have known what year it was. An excellent indie soundtrack by the way. One that included the likes of Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, etc added to the film. Patricia Arquette (Medium) and Ethan Hawke (a Linklater regular of late) were perfectly cast as the divorced parents. The inevitable competition between the warring parents for their kids’ affection was predictable but nicely done. Hawke stole virtually every scene he was in and proved that he is still a reliable actor.

Arquette had to play the role a little more straight faced but she got to have her moment to shine in the final moments as she sees her children off to college, which made for an endearing moment as the film came full circle. A tense chapter in which Arquette moves in with a deadbeat alcoholic made for uncomfortable, if dramatic, viewing. Kudos to Marco Perella. He was fantastic as the volatile Bill Welbrock. A ticking time bomb with his inevitable detonation vastly approaching with every drop of whiskey.

As Mason endures love, heartbreak, disappointment and . . . life really; you cannot help but feel you are watching someone’s life and after two hours, with a further 45 minutes to go, I felt that Linklater was self-indulging a little bit. Coltrane had enough charisma to keep the film going but once he reaches 18, I felt myself getting infuriated with him. He seemed to be too laidback and without a care in the world. I mean, of course, the idea is about finding oneself and choosing the right path and making a future for yourself but Mason doesn’t care at all. You can respect it to an extent but in terms of viewing, he soon becomes a greasy haired mumbler of a teen that borders on douche-baggery.

I mean for any teen, it can be frustrating with that endless pondering of what lies next. The endless questioning by family figures and friends interrogating Mason on life decisions was relatable for any one. At the same time, I felt that more could have been out of certain scenes. You expect in certain arguments or decisions, something else to happen, only for it to wither out and lead to nothing or skip past it altogether. Mason’s issue with bullies, for example, leads nowhere. Mainly because he keeps moving school. One of Arquette’s partners appears to become another angry drunk with tension mounting between him and Mason, only for it to be skipped forward a few years with the partner gone and only a sentence to explain.

There were so many points as the film drew to an excruciating close, in which it could have ended sooner. I mean the final moments do make for an uplifting and open ending, which does work surprisingly. However, it seemed to go out with a whimper and a mumble than a bang. A different concept made for watchable viewing but a questionable length (again that phrase) seemed to slacken this vehicle. A great cast (credit where it’s due also to Lorelei Linklater. Using your own family in a movie doesn’t always work . . . not unless you’re a Coppola), good story just do enough to do more good than bad. Worth a watch if you want an easy going, coming of age drama. 3/5 for me.

Currently ranked 64 out of 198!