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Detroit Reviews Are In, Here's What The Critics Are Saying

John Boyega Detroit

We're now in that sweet spot between the end of the summer blockbuster season and the beginning of awards season, and it looks like one of this weekend's most highly anticipated releases will combine those two sensibilities into something extraordinary. Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit doesn't debut until this Friday, but early reviews have already started to roll in, and (for the most part) it seems that critics have responded incredibly well to Bigelow's hard-hitting depiction of the 1967 Detroit riots. CinemaBlend's own Eric Eisenberg recently had a chance to check Detroit out, and his review is nothing if not glowing. Eric wrote:

While the overall tone of Bigelow's work may changed, however, what has stayed perfectly consistent is her acute ability to utterly captivate and thrill audiences, and her latest once again showcases a filmmaker at the very top of her game.

On the heels of similarly successful (and endlessly intense) projects like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Eric seems to think that Kathryn Bigelow has another triumph on her hands. The film approaches a tough topic with a seemingly unflinching sense of authenticity, and Bigelow has apparently once again proven that she is one of Hollywood's best filmmakers when it comes to sustaining tension and delivering thrills.

Building off of that idea, The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern similarly praised Detroit for its hard-hitting depiction of a nightmarish evening, as well as Kathryn Bigelow's ability to make that event feel specifically relevant for recent racial injustices that have captured headlines in America. Morgenstern wrote:

Dramatically relentless and emotionally shattering, it brings news from a turbulent past that casts a baleful light on America's troubled present.

Heaping further praise upon the docudrama, USA Today's Andrea Mandell specifically highlighted the film's practical use of a modern and relevant topic to frame its narrative, but she also warns against misreading the film's political message in an entirely negative fashion, saying:

The film's unflinching gaze on a lawless night will likely be politicized, but calling Detroit anti-police misses the mark. The question Detroit begs is, in a democratic nation, to whom does the law apply?

That said, the reviews for Detroit haven't been universally positive, as Newsweek's Alexander Nazaryan used his take on the film to highlight its somewhat overly clinical approach to its characters, saying:

What's missing from Bigelow's film is not sensitivity but nuance. Her characters never come alive, moving through the film less as people than entries in a sociology textbook.

Similarly, Deadline's Pete Hammond praised the fundamental craftsmanship on display in Detroit but lamented the fact that the film doesn't necessarily leave audiences with any thematic meat to chew on by the time the credits roll.

Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal are to be commended for tackling important and pertinent stories, but Detroit is a mixed bag. In your face filmmaking packs a wallop but ultimately sheds no new light on the race war in America 50 years later.

Detroit stars Star Wars' John Boyega, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Anthony Mackie, and The Revenant's Will Poulter. Centering on the 1967 Detroit riots, the film chronicles a series of injustices committed by the police as confusion and abuse of power runs rampant. It's a horrifying premise on paper, and it sounds like Bigelow (for better or for worse) really makes those ideas come to life on the silver screen.

All in all, it sounds the early reviews for Detroit has made an overwhelmingly positive impact on critics -- save for a few outliers. The film currently stands with a 95% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but we will just have to wait and see what audiences think when it finally premieres in theaters on August 4.

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.