Explosive Racial Tensions Turn Harrowing in New ‘Detroit’ Trailer
It’s a tableau with which anyone who watches the news is all too familiar: police station, pair of white interrogators, terrified-looking black man. But it’s not from last night’s 10 o’clock broadcast — the year is 1967, and that’s Star Wars star John Boyega in the chair, fielding aggressive and leading questions from the stern officers. It’s a tense scene bordering on the sickening, and the trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s supercharged period piece Detroit only gets more brutal from there.
Boyega portrays Melvin Dismukes, a security guard keeping watch across the street from Detroit’s Algiers Motel on the night of July 25, 1967. Dismukes got embroiled in a controversy of national significance when a grim situation played out at the motel, in which white officers of the Detroit Police Department violently assaulted the facility’s occupants and killed three black men. The racial component of the crime was an immediate cause for citizen outrage, but that didn’t stop the police from attempting to pin the crime on Dismukes, a black man.
Bigelow’s film tracks the events of that night and the riots that sprung up in its wake, working off a script drawn up by her The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty scribe Mark Boal. Aside from Boyega and bit players Anthony Mackie, John Krasinski, and Hannah Murray, the film largely eschews big-name actors, though sharp-eyed viewers may recognize The Revenant’s Will Poulter as the most sadistic, racist cop in the bunch. The film will storm theaters on August 4, bringing a long and hot summer to one grueling close. I’m reminded here of Do the Right Thing, another film depicting destructive unrest caused by racial injustice that arrived in America in the dog days of a year already marked by conflict around the country. Someone call Sly and the Family Stone: there’s a riot going on.