Monsters and Men: Film Review

Films about police brutality and Black Lives Matter have become popular in recent years so Monsters and Men really needed to do something different to stand out from the crowd, and while it is a poignant and touching film, it isn’t as affecting as films such as The Hate U Give and Fruitvale Station.

The film begins with Manny (Antony Ramos) who witnesses the local shop owner Big D get shot by a police officer on a street corner. The officer claims D tried to go for his gun but Manny’s video footage proves otherwise,  and now the cops are on his case, scaring him into keeping quiet and framing him to stop him talking.

Monsters and Men has great ideas and characters but doesn’t follow their storylines through to their rightful conclusion. It begins stories and introduces arcs and then abandons them to follow a new kid – high school student Zee (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) – who is tangentially related to the shooting. We see how it affected him and what he plans to do help affect change, which was nice and all but I wanted to see justice for Manny and Big D and I wanted to see African-American cop Dennis (John David Washington) pluck up the courage to speak out. I was waiting for the film to make its way back round to Manny’s story so I felt disappointed when that didn’t happen.

I wanted Washington and Ramos to have bigger parts, and while Harrison, Jr. did a solid job and his story reached a satisfying place, I spent the whole time waiting for those two to return. I cared about their characters and their journeys and I felt miffed that we weren’t given that. It seemed unfair to ask us to invest in them and not give us that pay off.

I’m glad there are plenty of films about the very real issue of police brutality in the U.S. because it needs to be addressed and remain in the spotlight. There are many stories and perspectives that can exist within this area so I don’t think the genre is crowded out yet but I also think Monsters and Men doesn’t really show us anything we haven’t seen before. It also didn’t move me or affect me deeply like The Hate U Give, Fruitvale Station, and even Blindspotting.

In selected cinemas Friday 18th January 

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