Di­rec­tor Kathryn Bigelow is back with a crunch­ing real-life ac­count of the Detroit race ri­ots


A BRUISING DRAMA set around 1967’s Al­giers Mo­tel in­ci­dent, in which the po­lice’s bru­tal re­sponse to re­ports of a shoot­ing fed into the city’s bloody ri­ots and led to a fa­mous in­jus­tice, Detroit boasts a di­rec­tor mak­ing up for lost time. Five years on from Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow has de­liv­ered an ur­gent, timely com­ment on Amer­i­can polic­ing and race re­la­tions in­spired by more re­cent civil un­rest. “I came across this story as I wit­nessed the af­ter­math of Fer­gu­son and the fall­out that spread across the coun­try,” she tells Em­pire. “[This film] il­lus­trated my frus­tra­tion with what I saw as a cy­cle of in­jus­tice.”

Bigelow has as­sem­bled a youth­ful, dy­namic cast to do the job, spear­headed by a pair of tal­ented Brits. John Boyega plays se­cu­rity guard Melvin Dis­mukes, while Will Poul­ter is set for a ca­reer-defin­ing turn as bru­tal Detroit cop Krauss. “I saw a strength and pre­science in Will that I knew would ig­nite the char­ac­ter,” Bigelow notes. “He’s ca­pa­ble of highly nu­anced per­for­mances that make it dif­fi­cult to take your eyes off him.”

Her screen­writer and Zero Dark Thirty col­lab­o­ra­tor Mark Boal cut no cor­ners, ei­ther. Court records were dusted off and po­lice state­ments scoured as he set about dis­cov­er­ing how the vi­o­lent in­ci­dent played out. Three eye­wit­nesses to the events them­selves (in­clud­ing Dis­mukes) were asked on set. Ex­pect that verisimil­i­tude to burn from ev­ery fierce frame.

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