Having had ferocious alien invaders to face in Attack The Block and the new cold heart of the Dark Side in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, John Boyega is about to take on perhaps his biggest challenge in one of the main roles for the cast of riot biopic, Detroit. It’s not his first serious acting part with his recent West End debut in Woyzec, but it is his first on the big screen, so it’s an important film for his future beyond Star Wars.
It’s the latest movie from acclaimed director Katherine Bigalow, who’s previous big-screen successes include The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, so she’s no stranger to hard hitting drama and fraught situations. The trailer below below is pretty tense, and following the film’s release in the US it has already picked up a number of positive review scores, averaging around 3/5. However, it hasn’t all been positive with some critics highlighting the negatives of having white filmmakers behind a film about race riots and police brutality.
Detroit has been confirmed for a UK release date of the 25th August 2017 following on from its premiere in the US on 25 July, which led on to its general release in North America on the 4th of August. It’ll be arriving on the big screen in the UK on the same weekend as militant action adventure Bushwick, drug runner biopic American Made and unconventional crime caper Logan Lucky, so it has a packed window at the box office.
The plot retells the true story of the darkest moments of the 12th Street Riots that took place in Detroit city in the long hot summer of 1967. It centres on the shocking events that took place at the Algiers Motel in the North End of the city in the thick of the riot. Three men were beaten and killed by the authorities as part of the riot task force.
John Boyega (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) plays private security guard Melvin Dismukes and he’s joined in the cast by Will Poulter (The Revenant) as cop Philip Krauss and Anthony Mackie (Avengers: Infinity War) as Vietnam War veteran Greene. The cast for Detroit also includes Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell (Kong: Skull Island), Jacob Latimer (Collateral Beauty), Hannah Murray (Game Of Thrones), Kaitlyn Denver (Bad Teacher), Jack Reynor (Macbeth), Ben O’Toole, Joseph David Jones, Ephraim Sykes, Leon Thomas III, Nathan Davis Jr., Peyton Alex Smith, Malcolm David Kelley, Gbenga Akinnabve (Independence Day: Resurgence), Chris Chalk (12 Years A Slave), Jeremy Strong (Black Mass), Laz Alonzo (Avatar), Austin Hebert, Miguel Pimentel (Live By Night), Kris Davis, and John Krasinski (The Office).
Katheryn Bigalow has directed the film from a screenplay by Mark Boal, who also worked on The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. They’re both down as producers too, alongside Matthew Budman, Megan Ellison and Colin Wilson. Barry Akroyd (The Hurt Locker, Captain Philips) is the director of photography and the genius that is James Newton Howard (Pretty Woman, The Sixth Sense, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them) has created the music score.
There’s something to be said for the all-white filmmaker criticism Detroit has received, but putting that to one side, it looks like it’s another impressive dramatisation from Kathryn Bigalow. John Boyega and Anthony Mackie look like they’re really stepping up into the difficult roles. They may well be better known for big name parts in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Avengers: Infinity War, but it will be their performances in films like this that really define their careers. Will Poulter is as accomplished as ever from the look of the trailer and they’ve all got a strong supporting cast to work with.
It may not have much chance of lighting any touchpaper, box office or political, but it does look like it’s going to be one of the year’s strongest serious movies to-date. We’re always keen to see history scrutinised like this, because it helps to reiterate the importance of change. The long hot summer of ’67 is obviously a long time ago now and many things have changed since then for the better, but there’s still plenty to be done to make the rights outweigh the wrongs.