Thursday, August 27, 2020

The 24th Review: A Powerful Film About The 1917 Houston Riots and Police Brutality on African American Soldiers


Release date: August 21, 2020
Running time: 101 minutes 
Starring: Trai Byers, Thomas Haden Church, Aja Naomi King

The 24th in an incredibly powerful and timely story based on the true story of the all black 24th Infantry of the United States and the events of the 1917 Houston Riots. The Houston Riot was a mutiny by 156 African American soldiers in response to the brutal violence and abuse at the hands of Houston police officers. The riot, which lasted two hours, led to the death of nine civilians, four policemen, two soldiers, and resulted in the largest murder trial in history, which sentenced a total of nineteen men to execution, and forty-one men to life sentences. 

This story follows William Boston (Byers) who has enlisted in the Twenty-Fourth United States Infantry Regiment to serve his country and eventually be deployed to the front lines of the Great War. Instead the 24th has been assigned to Texas in which they are tasked to guard the construction of Camp Logan, located about  four miles outside of Jim Crow Law Land Houston. Even under the command of Col. Norton (Church) who does his best to shield his troops from the racial animosity in the town, the troops are still harassed by its civilians and even attacked by their local law enforcement. When things get tough, Boston is forced to decide between standing with his brothers on an ill-fated battle against the police or seeking another opportunity elsewhere along side his love interest Marie (King).

Star of this film, Trai Byers makes his screenwriting debut alongside Oscar winner Kevin Willmott. Trai not only adds to his resume with this film but absolutely makes his big career break in his performance. Channeling raw and authentic emotions for the role makes this character feel perfectly authentic but also relatable.  Although the events of the film are fairly accurate and very little is changed for dramatic purposes, this film does have a little embellishment.  William Boston is a character based on a real historical figure, Corporal Charles William Baltimore, which does give the film an air of historical accuracy.  But the embellishments also allow his character to have more relatable aspects such as the included love interest angle.  This gave Trai the opportunity to further make this character his, which he does in amazing fashion!

With everything happening in the world today including protests on racial injustice and police brutality, this timely film highlights many of the same societal issues that African Americans have been dealing with for years.  This film further highlights this by showing that even US Military soldiers were not given equal rights simply because of their race.  The 24th has plenty of intense and hard to watch scenes that were emotional yet powerful. And these scenes were acted perfectly with characters that were well developed and relatable to the viewers.  And while the movie is an excellent watch on its own, the social injustices that it highlights make this film even more affecting.  The cinematography in this film captures this time period in is purest way as well as provides an added layer of intensity in scenes.  And this film's focus on this story and the racial injustice that occurred will motivate the viewer to read more about this event and the parallels it has to the events occurring right now.  It is truly powerful and scary to think about!

The 24th tells an incredibly powerful and timely true story that will spark emotions with its fantastic performances and focus on issues that we as a nation are still confronting.

Watch it.

If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube.  Make sure to check out the movie first, then watch the interview with the director, writers, and star of the movie: Kevin Willmott and Trai Byers!

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