Rating (3 out of 5)
There were some nice scenes but slow pace delivery drags on this film. In addition, the message was a bit heavy handed, taking away from the individual stories.
Plot: A black man is shot by police in front of a convenience store and the shooting was unprovoked. The movie explores the impact to 3 people, a young man who recorded the event, Manny (Anthony Ramos), a black policeman, Dennis (John David Washington) who works in the precinct and a young high schooler, Zyric (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) from the neighborhood.
What I Liked: The 3 different perspectives was interesting. The film while definitely siding with the neighborhood over the police, did multiple perspectives. I found the Dennis’s perspective as a police officer to be the most intriguing. There was a scene with friends at the dinner table where they started to debate the police officers and the really demonstrated how hard it must be to a good police officer when issues like this happen.
There was also a good scene (picture below) when the Dennis and Manny are facing each other through the one way glass, when Dennis is being interrogated by the police. There wasn’t any dialogue which made it a nice transition from one story to the next.
2 of the individual had sacrifices they were willing to make and sacrifices that I as a white male take for granted. The Manny risks his freedom, job and his family doing the right thing by posting the video. Watching him go through that decision making process with his wife was a stirring reminder of the courage it takes to do the right thing. How much do we not hear because people are afraid?
The last individual risked a new life in professional baseball by attending a rally. When the rally ends in a riot he wisely goes home. The conflict between him and his dad highlighted some of decisions faced when you live in rough neighborhood. Parents just want their children to have a better life and live to see tomorrow and the children want to speak out and challenge authority.
What I Didn’t Like: While the movie was fairly short at hour and 30 minutes, there are stretches where the movie plowed to a stop. The director was probable trying to fabricate an intensity of the moment but stretched those scenes too long. As an example, at the end Zyric changes for this professional tryout, trots out of the locker room, down the hallway and to the field. The message and insensity of the scene was achieved when changed his clothe and trotted down the hallway and we saw the shirt. The scene became too long when the director chose to follow him around the turn, and then out on to the field. This was extra bit was typical most of the movie.
The challenge when directing a movie like this is to have the audience enjoy the story but also receive your message. The stories by themselves were interesting, but because we are receiving the message through the entire film, it becomes very heavy. The message was being pounded in with a hammer and instead of being served in a delicious desert.
Outside of Dennis and his female white partner, I don’t know how well a job of portraying the police side of the story. If we there were some shortening of scenes, which would have improved the pace, the director could have explored parts of the stories more. I appreciated the 3 perspectives, but I wanted to know more about Dennis and Manny. Zyric’s story was complete.
Conclusion: A movie tackling a tough subject and is thought provoking. However, the film is dragged down by a slow pace of delivery.