Last Sunday I grieved over my inability to give Detroit a positive review. I was ready to sing and shout before seeing it, but after two viewings the best I could manage was a mild pan. But I don’t want Detroit to be hurt during this weekend’s limited break. (The real opening is next Friday, 8.4) It’s a nervy, honorable thing made by gifted people with real passion in their veins. We’ll all feel better if it connects than if it doesn’t. But will it?
Limited platform openings are about connecting with early adopters and getting that social-media buzz going, so it’s probably fair to say that the word in the big cities will either make it or break it. Did anyone catch it last night?
I spoke this morning to an attorney friend who sees what he sees and likes what he likes, and I asked him about Detroit. “What about it?,” he said. Those three words were damning enough, but I asked if he plans on seeing it. Reply: “Uhm, maybe…uhm, actually, no, I don’t think so. Well, maybe.”
I’m a little surprised by the 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating. I know what this movie is, and I know what films boasting an over 90% RT rating generally feel like, and Detroit, trust me, is not one of those down-on-your-knees hail hossanah experiences. It doesn’t have that schwing. Big-city critics want to be as approving as possible, of course. They sure as shit don’t want to go thumbs down. I honestly thought Detroit would land in the high ’70s or low 80s. The 86% Metacritic rating is more reality-reflecting than the RT.