Movie Review: Kathryn Bigelow takes aim at racism and police brutality in the scattershot Detroit

Detroit, director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal’s dramatization of the police killing of three black teenagers at the Algiers Motel in the middle of the riots that burned through Detroit exactly 50 years ago, is a mess, but at least it has its reasons. This, after all, is a story without a protagonist or an ending, and Bigelow and Boal, who previously worked together on The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, don’t try to force either on it; the most they do is make Melvin Dismukes (John Boyega), a part-time black security guard who would end up a defendant in the case, enough of an interesting character to justify the young English actor’s top billing. At the center of the choppy, blunt narrative is the “death game,” a Gestapo-ian psychological torture gone horribly wrong and a caustic allegory for the workings of racism. But one …

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