Another sobering addition to the ever-swelling canon of films addressing the Black Lives Matter movement, this sombre but deeply emotional drama offers three different perspectives on a single act of unprovoked police violence on a Brooklyn street corner. Significantly, the victim of that act is an ex-serviceman – he’s laid to rest with the Stars and Stripes draped over him. There’s no mistaking the point writer-director Reinaldo Marcus Green is making about the system of racial profiling, stop-and-search and trigger-happy policing, and how it makes victims of even the US’s own supposed heroes and race traitors of African-American cops.
There are clear parallels here with last year’s similarly themed ‘The Hate U Give’, but Green, adapting and expanding his own short film, brings in other perspectives. John David Washington offers an insider’s viewpoint as a cop caught between bonds of loyalty to fellow officers and a simmering disgust for their barely disguised racism. His role is more muted than in ‘BlacKkKlansman’, but he shows tantalising glimpses of dad Denzel’s effortless charisma.
It’s a seriously promising first film from Green. He’s an empathetic director who brings the camera close in to show events that are seismic yet depressingly mundane. He’s rewarded with strong performances, especially Anthony Ramos as a bystander who films the shooting. It’s a film that doesn’t provide easy answers but asks a lot of worrying questions.