Monsters and Men

Written and directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, Monsters and Men explores the impact that a black man’s murder by police officers has on a trio of disparate characters – including the individual (Anthony Ramos’ Manny) who filmed the execution and a cop (John David Washington’s Dennis) who’s forced to confront his own experiences with racism among his ranks. Green admittedly does an effective job of instantly drawing the viewer into the deliberately-paced proceedings, as Monsters and Men opens with a striking pre-credits sequence wherein Dennis is pulled over for no apparent reason (other than the color of his skin) – with the movie seguing immediately into the exploits of Ramos’ tremendously sympathetic figure and his indecision over what to do with the explosive footage. And although the picture is beautifully shot and brilliantly performed, Monsters and Men suffers from a palpably lackadaisical atmosphere that does, for the most part, prevent the viewer from wholeheartedly embracing the material – which ultimately lends the picture an actor’s showcase sort of feel (albeit one that is, from time to time, incredibly intense and thoroughly relevant).

**1/2 out of ****

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