During the long, hot summer of 1967, the city of Detroit erupted into a full-blown war zone as police clashed with the predominantly Africa-American population of the inner city.
That civil disturbance, one which would go on to become one of the costliest in American history, was reportedly sparked by a police raid of an unlicensed bar in mid-July, leading to four terrifying days and nights of fiercely controversial incidents, such as the Algiers Motel killings. All of this and more is teased in the tense first trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s drama, which finds John Boyega’s (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) security guard under interrogation. It’s a remarkably intense and effective scene, and one that tees up the calm before the oncoming storm.
Assuming Bigelow’s real-life drama stays true to the history books – and we’re inclined to believe it will – the story of Detroit will likely unfold over those four days, when the National Guard was dispatched to in order to quell the riots. By August 1967, four days and 43 deaths later, Detroit’s 12th Street riot wrote its name in the history books as one of the deadliest and indeed devastating periods of civil unrest in modern American history, and if that’s not compelling enough material for a complex, biting Oscar candidate, we don’t quite know what is.
Joining Boyega on the casting docket are Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever, Jack Reynor, Ben O’Toole, Joseph David Jones, Ephraim Sykes and Leon Thomas III. That is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the film’s ensemble cast though, given the fact that Bigelow has also drafted in the likes of Nathan Davis Jr., Peyton Alex Smith, Malcolm David Kelley, Gbenga Akinnabve, Chris Chalk, Jeremy Strong, Laz Alonzo, Austin Hebert, Miguel Pimentel, Kris Davis, with John Krasinski and Avengers star Anthony Mackie.
On August 4th, the crack team of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal will cast light on one of the most “terrifying events in American history.” All signs currently point to Detroit becoming an early Oscar candidate ahead of Hollywood’s annual awards circuit, and it’ll be fascinating to watch how audiences react to such a prescient, unflinching portrayal of the 12th Street riot.