“It is the story of the all-black Twenty-Fourth United States Infantry Regiment, and the Houston Riot of 1917.” -IMDB
Want to know the most disappointing part of this movie? That I barely heard a word about it leading up to its release. Granted, I’m not going to movies in theaters and seeing previews as often, but I still heard little buzz about it. Given that this movie delves into a rather unexplored period of history, while also touching on subjects which, tragically, continue unchanged over a century later, this movie deserves more attention that it seems to have received. Let me clarify…
The 24th focuses on the lead up to the Houston Riot of 1917, a topic which I’m ashamed to say I had heard of, but knew very little about. While training for WWI in Texas, the 24th Infantry faces the malice, hostility, and the out and out evil of not only the Houston police, but the racist townspeople and their own military commanders. It almost goes without saying that it is a tough watch. It is impossible to come away from seeing such injustices, and where they ultimately lead, without feeling sickened. In fact, I think if someone does come away from this movie without feeling wholly enraged, of course not only by events of the past but events of the present, then that person needs to immediately check their privilege.
That is not to say that it is a perfect movie. It was, at times, a little clunky and surprisingly slow. And I have to say I was disappointed to find Thomas Hayden Church a tad wooden because I usually freaking love him. However, Trai Byers (who also co-wrote the movie), Bashir Salahuddin, Mo McRae, Tosin Morohunfola, Mykelti Williams, and the rest of the company make up for these inconsistencies. They portray the frustration and pain of these soldiers in a deliberate and delicate way, so that we as an audience feel their rage rising to a boiling point which ultimately culminates in unthinkable tragedy all around.
Again, this movie is a tough fucking watch. There is no way around it and you may want to save it for a morose movie day, complete with rain and a box of kleenex. But it deals with horrible realities that need to be addressed and, ultimately, it does what period movies should: shines a light on subjects of the past that continue to hold lessons for the present. But how much more did we hear about Robert fucking Pattinson and that new Batman trailer than about this movie? Just some food for thought.
Rating: 7 out of 10 Claire Bears
If you like this movie, you should also see: BlackkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods, Chi-Raq
Streaming: Available for rent or purchase only, I rented through Apple TV
With: Trai Byers, Bashir Salahuddin, Aja Naomi King
Directed By: Kevin Willmott