From Writer / Director Reinaldo Marcus Green comes a fantastic original screenplay of a troubled area in Brooklyn. Told from the perspective of three different characters the movie opens with John David Washington’s character Officer Dennis driving through New York listening and singing along to upbeat music only to be pulled over for no apparent reason. Turning off his music and looking rather sheepish, we start to wonder who this man really is. It’s right here from the music change that a rather bleak tone enriches the film right to the closing credits.
Cutting from Washington we move to a young man named Manny (Anthony Ramos) at a job interview. The camera closes in on his application form where we see that he has to tick a box that tells his potential employer that he’s previously had a conviction. Manny leaves his application and heads home past his local convenience store where he encounters his friend Darius Larson (Samel Edwards). Darius is larger than life, the guy we all love as he knows everyone in the community and takes an interest in everyone he meets. It’s from here that we find out that Manny is a young father with both his very intelligent partner and young daughter living with his mother.
It doesn’t take long for things to escalate here when Manny decides to take a walk out to the convenience store only to be caught up with a police raid putting Darius in harms way. Manny immediately starts filming the encounter on his Smartphone which ultimately results in a gunshot going off and Darius being killed, rocking the community. The story in the news is that he ‘went’ for a policeman’s gun but Manny knows different. It’s from here that Manny has to make a decision – does he air his footage to the world or keep it to himself to protect his family.
The second perspective jumps back to Officer Dennis, a family man who is well respected in the community as a police officer. It’s his 74th precinct that is caught up in the death of Darius and with the street and protests starting to gain momentum, he has to start questioning what he believes and what is right; knowing that some of his colleagues have become far too power hungry for their own good.
The third and final perspective is from Zyric (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a hot shot high school baseball star who we’re introduced to as he’s pulled over by the same police officers embroiled in the Darius shooting. He’s simply walking home and they pull him over in a random stop and search. This sparks something in Zyric (who’s on the cusp of being signed by a Major League Baseball team, something which he’s spent years perfecting). Does he follow his dream or does he stand up for what he truly believes?
What links all these stories is how each protagonists react to their given situation and how they react to the situation they’re in. Each of their three predicaments will have consequences but will they be brave enough to stand up for what they believe in?
Monsters and Men is a film that cannot help but get you talking. It has so much depth and Reinaldo Marcus Green should be highly commended. He brings three complicated and poignant stories together seamlessly with so many scenes that will have you gripped. There’s one shot that you may have seen on the poster (embedded here) which shows Manny and Office Dennis staring at one another through two way mirror which just lingers long enough for you to wonder if they actually know one another are there.
Monsters and Men delves deep into issues that both the US and the wider world face with stereotypes and prejudice at the top of the agenda. I’d highly recommend this film, it’ll get you talking for hours after about what each character should or shouldn’t have done and has me asking, if I was in the same boat, what would I do?