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Monsters and Men


Stars: John David Washington, Anthony Ramos, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Nicole Beharie, Chante Adams, Cara Buono, Grant Jaeger

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green

If you've seen The Hate U Give and/or Blindspotting, you'll be on familiar ground with this drama which, although decently made and moderately thought-provoking, suffers by comparison with its predecessors.

The film starts with a black driver being pulled over by a white cop for no apparent reason. It's not until after the encounter has concluded that we're shown that the black man, Dennis Williams (Washington) is a cop himself.

Washington is a solid presence throughout the film, as we meet Zyrick (Harrison) an aspiring teenage sports star just starting work aa a security officer, and young married Latino Manny (Ramos), who is indulging in a little street-corner gambling, when there's a nearby fracas, which ends in black drug peddler Big D (Samuel Edwards) being shot by a (white) cop, who alleges the victim was reaching for the cop's gun.

The whole thing is filmed on his smart-phone by Manny, who, like Dennis and Zyrick as the film progresses, has to choose between the dangerous business of getting involved or just keeping a low profile.

Besides Washington, who is surely destined for similar stardom to his distinguished father, the acting is competent throughout, if perhaps less impassioned than one might expect. The film is a little slow, and its occasional handheld camerawork annoying, but the characters' environment is skilfully established and well captured throughout.

David Quinlan

USA 2018. UK Distributor: Altitude. Technicolor.
96 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 18 Jan 2019