Kings Review - Halle Berry and Daniel Craig Team Up to Create Riveting Drama

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Kings, from Maven Pictures and The Orchard, present the story of life in 1992 Los Angeles, a city deeply divided, with shocking inner city violence and explosive tensions between the LAPD and the communities they serve.

Directed and written by Deniz Gamze Erguven, Kings stars Halle Berry, Daniel Craig, Jesse Cooper, Kaalan Walker, Rachel Hilson, Issac Ryan Brown, Callan Farris, Serenity Reign Brown, Aiden Akpan, Gary Yavuz Perreau, Lorenz Arnell, Lorrie Odon, and Lewis T. Powell.

Kings opens with a African America teenager, played by Quartey Denaya, walking along the street stopping in a Korean owned bodega, where she reaches into the refrigerator section, pulls out an orange juice, walks to the counter to pay, with the money in her hand to pay, when a scuffle breaks out and the owner, strikes the teen several times grabbing her backpack, screaming about stealing the orange juice. The Korean store owner pulls out a gun and fires. The girl, Latisha Harlins, was killed instantly.


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And this is South Central, a powder keg sparked with rage and anger over clear injustices      and discriminatory action. It's six weeks before the Rodney King verdict.

Today, Millie Dunbar, a foster mother of six, played by Halle Berry, is making Bundt cakes and getting the kids up for school. Jesse, the oldest, played by Lamar Johnson, is in charge of breakfast duties. She is dedicated to helping as many as possible. Living in Los Angeles in 1991 through the eyes of Millie, we see a neighborhood out of control with a race war a spark away.

Taking unnecessary risks she rescues young black men from the police who are set on harassment exerting authority in an "us" and "them" division.

Life isn't easy in 1992 Los Angeles, suddenly as one foster child leaves she finds a street kid and picks him up in a desperate effort to save at least one more life from life on the street which isn't easy in South Central.

As Kings moves closer to the day of the verdict, the televisions everywhere are glued to the trial, everyone has an opinion and the world believes justice, finally ever elusive justice will prevail. Hell there's a tape, justice will prevail.

We meet neighbor Obie Hardison, played by Daniel Craig, "the only white dude in the neighborhood" as he and Millie along with her two oldest charges have a run in with the local Korean liquor store owner and Hardison, a writer, needed beer, before coffee.

It's the day of the verdict. With the neighborhood stung by the decision, the colors came off and a people, tired, united. The wick was lite, and in moments it was anarchy. The streets were filled with angry people, the kids who didn't know and didn't are were outside the gated property. Trying to find everyone and gather them to safety, with the streets erupting pitted police against law abiding and criminal, everyone was the same, skin color was the dividing line.

Kings is a powerful statement of life in Los Angeles in 1992. The backdrop of the Rodney King trial and verdict and the media takeover of the trial, which had the actions of that fateful night, played and replayed and replayed again throughout to a neighborhood, nee a world, who expected a much different outcome.

It is a much different role for Halle Berry who plays the militant. She is out to save, stop and rescue and will take on anyone even the police. Clearly a 180 degree difference for Daniel Craig, who has several key scenes. His rendition of "Say it out loud I'm black and I'm proud," and his smooth moves are not to be missed.

Kings takes on Los Angeles 1992 from a different angle, and yes taped footage provides glimpses of the major conflicts and the skyline is dotted orange as the fires range into the night. It doesn't sugar coat.

Berry and Craig, world class players, bring their skills to this hometown movie and take on decade old arguments in the process. The inner city scourge is obviously still present, it wouldn't be gritty, L.A. if it were missing. The streets are what they are.


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Tragedy is obviously a through line – The tragedy of injustice; of unrepresented, of discrimination; of services that don't do enough; a political wrangling and bi-partisan finger pointing and sorrow, the unbelievable sorrow of injustice. Of being discounted as a people.

Kings is not politically correct. It reflects days, times, seasons and events and includes language that reflects the same. It is worth seeing for many reasons.

Kings opens April 27, 2018. See it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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