Antoine Fuqua’s thuddingly unsubtle Will Smith-starring slavery drama is an unusually ugly image. And whereas you may make a case that the details of slavery can not and shouldn’t be prettified, Fuqua’s strategy, each within the relentless grind of graphic cruelty and the grim, close to monochrome sludge of the cinematography, makes for a gruelling endurance take a look at of a viewing expertise.
Smith, recent from his Oscar-winning efficiency in King Richard final 12 months, delivers a bodily dedicated flip as a personality loosely primarily based on an actual individual. Peter is a person of religion and a loving husband and father who has saved his household collectively and protected, though they stay as slaves. Discovering himself cruelly separated from his spouse and kids, he escapes by the Louisiana swamps, outwitting alligators and Ben Foster’s sneering, sadistic overseer. In a chase image that evolves right into a warfare film, the storytelling is propulsive, but it surely’s cheapened by crude and manipulative film-making selections.