Based upon a true story, shortly after being released on parole a white supremacist (Joe Anderson) murders a police officer and take an African American family prisoner. The father of the family taken hostage (Danny Glover) is an ex-cop, who is forced to use coping humor and his knowledge of the racist mind to figure out how to get his family out of the situation safely, though he is forced to confront his own bigotries and anger along the way.
‘Supremacy’ is a decent movie that features great performances from all involved. Despite itself, the film’s storytelling leaves a bit to be desired. While the characters are fairly well developed, much of the movie’s attempts at creating drama or delivering any coherent message fail.
It is an unfortunate trend in films like this that deal with serious issues like race and bigotry to rely a lot on shocking language and threats to carry the load. Here a lot of the actions of the characters don’t really make any sense. They are just forced into the story. Because the film is based upon a true story the film’s writers know where they have to go, but in this case it feels like they don’t put in the effort to make the journey actually believable. Attitudes change and new understandings are born from almost nowhere.
Tied in with this lack of good plot development is an overstatement on creating drama within the plot. Perhaps the biggest example of this is the use of time skips and flashbacks to askew what the viewer’s know about what happened during what turns out to be a pivotal scene. This technique works in some movies/genres, but here it just exasperates the film’s problems with story.
Like a lot of films of this type there is the last minute change of heart by the bigot characters. The entire movie is shot with an emphasis on the morality of the entire subject. However at the end through a few lines of text it is revealed that despite this positive change the guilty party is given the death penalty. While this makes sense from a legal standpoint it creates a dissonance of motives from the filmmakers. The entire film was written around the moment of overcoming bigotry, but in the end this realization was all for naught. Perhaps they were going for the same type of powerless ending that makes ‘American History X’ so darn depressing, but it just does not have the same effect here. Of course this was a true story so perhaps the writers felt that they needed to include the true ending, but a lot more justice to the film’s message and power would have been done if they had left the ending ambiguous. Really curious people could google what really happened.
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