Kathryn Bigelow's films are usually rather hit-or-miss for me. I loved "The Hurt Locker", but hated "Zero Dark Thirty". As such, I was a little worried that "Detroit" wouldn't work for me, but I thought that the story looked riveting, so I was still very excited.
The film is definitely very well-written for an ensemble film. The first thirty or so minutes develop the four main characters (it's technically three storylines, though), then there is an hour and a half of the main conflict, and then the last thirty minutes are the resolution. It's a really interesting structure, as it has the effective suspense of other single-room thrillers during the main conflict, however, it still provides the interesting characterization that occurs in ensemble dramas. The writer did a really good job of creating moral ambiguity within all of the characters. The antagonists are shown to have some redeeming qualities, while the protagonists are shown to have some negative qualities, meaning that everyone fell into a grey area for the audience to evaluate them.
The filmmaking style of "Detroit" is very harsh and gritty. The camerawork is shaky and realistic, and the production design is very simple and life-like. Prior to watching the film, I was worried that this would make the film feel less professional, however, it was actually a brilliant decision on the part of Bigelow, as it made the film much more absorbing and realistic. I thought that the ensemble cast did very well as a whole. My favorite performance came from Will Poulter, who gave an absolutely terrifying and menacing performance as the main antagonist. His abilities are part of what made me sympathize with the characters that he was oppressing so easily. The only thing that I didn't like about the film is that the opening scene of the film gives a comprehensive history of racism told through animation that looks like either construction paper or crayon with subtitles in a weird font. For one, this information isn't really necessary to the film, and the way in which it is presented is really odd and not aesthetically pleasing.
Overall, I found "Detroit" to be a really great thriller about social issues. The suspense is there, as is the characterization, and the style is gritty and absorbing. I highly recommend it.
Big Tuna's Rating: A
How Did I Watch It?: In theaters.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Yes.
I am a huge movie fan that wants to tell people about my very varying taste and opinion of film.