“There on West Adams there are boys fighting the police and neighborhood boys are running there.”
In 1991, this was the norm in the midst of the Los Angeles Riots where African American teens and young adults took to the streets in the wake of the Rodney King verdict where the police responsible got away scot free. The latest drama starring Halle Berry and Daniel Craig follows one foster mother in the wake of this in South Central Los Angeles as she attempts to keep her children safe and out of the clutches of the LAPD.
Altogether, the film is exceptionally cast with Halle Berry, and feels similar to her other roles including The Call where she played the 911 telephone operator on the phone with a young girl who had just been abducted. Honestly, one can see how Berry was cast as she captures the same drama and suspense of a woman who just wants to keep as many kids safe as possible.
In addition, the chemistry between she and Daniel Craig is a great match as they play two individuals that go from disliking each other to needing one another to survive for the young boys they are trying to protect. Craig steps out of the shadows of his 007spy espionage that he is known for. In this role, he is seen as a character that does some dramatic growing from a next door white neighbor who just seems to be annoyed with living in the low-income area of South Central, to one that actually develops compassion for the kids that used to annoy him.
Ultimately, there is just one part that I found distracting to the story and that is the sex scene, though it is in Berry’s mind. For the director, I couldn’t quite grasp why it was included, unless it just tied to the fact of wanting to see Craig and Berry together in the end. For me as a viewer, I could have done without it, as it didn’t really do anything for the initial storyline.
There was one breakout actor to point out and that was the young man who played Berry’s son, Jesse (Lamar Johnson). As a relatively unknown actor, Johnson’s mannerisms throughout the movie were right on point. Through his eyes, one knew that something was going to happen as he watches everything. This is shown through him being the one to help with the other kids, particularly in his first encounter with Nicole, the young girl whom he rescues (similar to his mom) from the store owner who accuses her of shoplifting. His strong, yet silent acting builds up to the climax at the end and shows just how the riots affected even the youngest of children as he shifts his attention from himself to his foster brothers and sisters all throughout the movie. It’ll be interesting to watch Johnson grow in other films and roles.
Because of the film’s deep roots in Los Angeles, the director did her research and carefully used both archived footage interchangeably with her own actors, which ultimately helped to draw the audience into the emotion of the Angelenos affected by the events. The film wouldn’t have captured the same emotion without it, and though the footage is somewhat hard to experience, it does show how the riots resulted from it.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Kings is a movie for anyone that knows the history of the LA Riots. It is an exceptional movie that shows where we’ve been and how far we’ve come in the eyes of the LAPD and the Black Lives Matter movement. Though the relationships with the police are not perfect, there is a slight improvement that will only get better if one remembers the past and seeks to make it better. While viewer discretion is advised for the violent nature, brief nudity and language, it is a movie for all, who seek a better world in the face of the corruption that we all face in the eyes of politics.