Because of how much I loved John David Washington’s performance in “BlacKkKlansman,” I was interested to check him out in “The Old Man & the Gun” and “Monsters and Men.” But more importantly, at this point, I’m dishing on “Monsters and Men,” another racial drama to deal with the never-ending discrimination. And while “BlacKkKlansman” was the better film, this one has feelings and ambitions.
Writer/director Reinaldo Marcus Green introduces us to three characters, who are all affected by the same situation. We meet Officer Dennis Williams (Washington), a young father named Manny Ortega (Anthony Ramos), and a young baseball champ named Zyrick (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.).
As the movie opens, set in Brooklyn, NY, we meet Manny, a young Latino man, who gets a new job, and wants to provide for his family (Jasmine Cephas Jones plays his girlfriend) video cameras a white cop shooting an unarmed African-American man at the local deli, and uploads the video on the internet. After that, he wrongfully ends up in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, and ergo, protests for his release and the murder are in preps.
Williams ends up feeling conflicted that the same cop works in his precinct, and yet, he feels what the protestors are doing is right. Like Manny, he has a family, too. I felt this side could have expressed more.
And finally, we meet Zyrick, who is set for the major-league showcase, which will determines his future. But before that, he joins the protestors, against his father’s (Rob Morgan) wishes. He understands the true pain, but he wants his son to get out of Brooklyn, and the showcase may be his only chance. The boy still joins the protestors, nonetheless.
“Monsters and Men” doesn’t finish Manny or Williams’ sides of the story, and some of their aspects weren’t exactly clear to me, which left me a little bored and confused. If I want to support the fight, I have to know every exact detail, and I want to see more of the outcome. Again, it’s not better than “BlacKkKlansman.”
But what makes the movie work is that it’s another one of those movies to battle racism during the Trump era. It has situations involving people filming cops at the scene of a crime and protests, which look and feel realistic; and the acting from Washington, Ramos, Harrison, Jr, and Morgan keeps things in check.
Our country is going down the drain with all this hate, and such films this year as “BlacKkKlansman,” “Blindspotting,” and now “Monsters and Men” have entered the fight.