Over the last few years, America has literally witnessed hundreds of people of color perish at the hands of law enforcement. What most fail to remember is that when the cameras go away and the news outlets are on to the next breaking story.
In each scenario, there is always someone willing to do “the right thing,” despite the consequences. But, at the end of the day what is really right or wrong is an individual choice where the consequences come with anguish, love or unbeatable pain.
When Reinaldo Marcus Green opens this film, Dennis (John David Washington) is riding joyfully singing to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay together when he is pulled over by a cop. It begs to pose the question of how many times do you think Dennis gets pulled over as opposed to white female partner? My guess is more that he needs to be. I knew then that this would be a film that would make me feel some kind of way.
When we get introduced to Manny (Anthony Ramos), we see a young man trying desperately to gain employment in order to support his Mom, daughter and girlfriend. Needless to say, as a felon, accomplishing this task is more difficult than it sounds. Manny’s life changes in an instant when he witnessing a friend (Big D) shot and captures the whole incident on his cell phone. Annoyed and plagued by nightmares, he anonymously leaks the footage to the media. It doesn’t take the cops long to figure out it was Manny and this is where his dilemma begins.
Both Dennis and Manny must make the decision to speak up or shut up. What they ultimately choose in both instances will knock you for a loop. Manny’s video also impacts Zyric (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a high-school student seconds aways from a college baseball scholarship. Zyric’s political awakening worries his father (Rob Morgan) who believes his son’s planned participation in a march against the murder of Big D will hurt his career. But like the NFL ousted quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Zyric symbolically takes a knee by raising his voice against police brutality.
This fantastic debut for director Reinaldo Marcus Green couldn’t be more timely or necessary. The performances of John David Washington, Anthony Ramos and Kelvin Harrison, Jr. will make for some interesting water cooler conversations as they are all stellar, charismatic actors dealing with a subject matter that is getting major attention from numerous films this year including The Hate U Give, Sorry to Bother You and Blindspotting.
When will we thrive in a society where law enforcement are not viewed as “monsters’ but rather the ‘men’ that society needs them to be for the greater good of the society and neighborhoods they are meant to protect and serve?
Take a look at this interview with Anthony Ramos and John David Washington and listen to what Reinaldo Marcus Green says about shooting Monsters and Men…
INTERVIEW WITH REINALDO MARCUS GREEN