Detroit, review: history retold in the blistering present tense

Dir: Kathryn Bigelow; Starring: Anthony Mackie, John Boyega, Algee Smith, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor, Ben O’Toole, Jacob Latimore, Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever. 15 cert, 143 mins.

Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit is about the events in an American city one night 50 years ago, but its outlook stretches an awful lot farther than that. In her third torn-from-the-long-reads collaboration with screenwriter Mark Boal, after The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Bigelow has made a film about her country’s deep-seated derangement on matters of race – back then, right now, at all times in between, and for goodness-knows-how much longer. As recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia suggest, the last chapter of this story won’t be written for some while yet.

In late July of 1967, at the height of a five-day riot sparked by a violent law-enforcement crackdown on an unlicensed African-American drinking den, three black teenagers died from gunshot wounds sustained over a mile away at the city’s Algiers Motel, during a raid on the property by police and the National Guard.

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