Detroit: Harrowing Civil Unrest Drama

Detroit Movie
Star Rating: *****
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Producers: Megan Ellison, Kathryn Bigelow, Matthew Budman, Colin Wilson and Mark Boal
Made by: Annapurna Pictures. Running time: 143minutes
Review date: 02.9.17

Detroit maybe famously known as Motor City, but back in 1967, it became notorious for something other than producing automobiles. In July 1967 this American city experienced a series of terrible riots and an infamous night of Police led terror at the Algiers Motel.

Produced and Directed by Oscar winning (‘The Hurtlocker’) Kathryn Bigelow, Detroit, is the story of the summer of 1967 when racial tensions between Police and African-Americans boiled over. Bigelow vividly and harrowingly depicts the unfolding tragedy on what starts out as an ordinary Saturday night out with people enjoying music, drink and dominoes at an un-licensed night club. Elsewhere, theatregoers are enjoying a concert. The Police however have other ideas and set out to spoil the party.

Detroit 1967

Although the drama is clearly set 50 years ago, the events would not seem out of place if this was a story from 2017, such is the horrifying way too many American police officers have been unlawfully executing, quite literally, their duties in recent years. If you think the excesses of recent times are new, you need to watch this film.

It’s an extreme story, expertly told which grips your attention from start to finish, especially the scenes of terrifying torture as a group of out of control policemen seek to bully confessions out of a group of Black men and a couple of young white women for what seems an eternity. You never quite know what might happen next such is the deranged way in which one particular officer directs proceedings.

Londoner John Boyega (pictured on trailer) plays Security Guard, Melvin Dismukes, who finds himself witnessing the drama first hand. His studied and underplayed reactions, almost like an external insider to events speak volumes. He handles himself and this role with a dignified, sensible and entirely credible manner.

A little more context to events leading up to the riots and civil disturbance might have been helpful. Nonetheless, I can see Oscar nominations and awards for Detroit for it is a horrifically sad,  yet gut wrenchingly great movie that recounts real life events decades ago that unfortunately rings all too true today. It’s fascination in large part is down to this very timelessness as watching it you can’t help but think of recent tragic events in America. It makes you wonder how far, if at all, things have progressed with regards to civil rights, justice and basic human respect for African-Americans in the so called land of the free.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town


  1. After Ferguson: How Far Has the Civil Rights Movement Progressed in Britain and America? – Battle of Ideas review  – 11th November 2015
  2. 3.5 Minutes, 10 Bullets – Review – 10th October 2015


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1 Response to Detroit: Harrowing Civil Unrest Drama

  1. Pingback: 10 Steps To Eradicating Racist Murders and Honouring the Life of George Floyd? | tiemotalkofthetown

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