Antoine Fuqua’s thuddingly unsubtle Will Smith-starring slavery drama is an unusually ugly image. And whereas you may make a case that the information of slavery can’t 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 check of a viewing expertise.
Smith, contemporary from his Oscar-winning efficiency in King Richard final 12 months, delivers a bodily dedicated flip as a personality loosely based mostly on an actual individual. Peter is a person of religion and a loving husband and father who has stored his household collectively and protected, though they reside as slaves. Discovering himself cruelly separated from his spouse and youngsters, he escapes by means of 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, however it’s cheapened by crude and manipulative film-making decisions.