Whether you’re a fan of “The Wire” or a fan of “Scandal,” seeing two talented actors like Jamie Hector and Kerry Washington together in “Night Catches Us” is a treat for everyone. Writer/director Tanya Hamilton gave the actors the opportunity to tell a historical story but still keep the 2010 film entertaining.
Based in 1976, former Black Panther Party member Marcus Washington (played by Anthony Mackie) is released from prison. Unfortunately for him, not everyone is happy that he’s now free, specifically fellow Black Panther member Dwayne “DoRight” Miller (played by Hector). DoRight is convinced that Marcus snitched to the police about Neil, another Panther member and the husband of Patricia “Patty” Wilson (played by Washington).
Marcus has repeatedly denied that he told the FBI anything, but there seems to be no other possible suspects who would have known so much insider information about Neil. It also doesn’t help that Officer David Gordon (played by a second “The Wire” actor Wendell Pierce) keeps bugging Marcus to find out more information on the Black Panther Party, including setting DoRight up.
Although Patty and Marcus have brushed away their ties to the Black Panther Party, Patty’s cousin Jimmy Dixon (played by Amari Cheatom) is hell bent on keeping the movement going. From arguing about recycling money to the importance of the black dollar to challenging police on racial profiling, Jimmy has no problem speaking up. He’s also spreading tales about the Black Panther Party to Patty’s pre-teen daughter Iris Wilson (played by Jamara Griffin).
Marcus is concerned that if Jimmy keeps his antics going, his hateful stories could undo all that Patty has done to protect Iris from Patty’s former lifestyle. She’s made a point of telling her daughter how to act when encountering police, but she never says much about Neil. Considering the youngster is confused and hurt about the murder of her father, anyone associated with him catches Iris’ attention. However, with men coming into Iris’ life as fast as they leave, it’s a given that she’d be skeptical of Marcus.
This isn’t the type of film with any jaw-dropping moments, but what makes “Night Catches Us” so well done is the character-driven plot. Moviegoers won’t be surprised by the stunts each character pulls. The entertainment aspect is moreso in watching each characters’ reactions. The dialogue, clothing and pace of the film are impressive for a topic with so much depth. And as with many underrated films, this is one that left a lasting impression and the potential to spark follow-up debates.
Shamontiel is also The Wire Examiner, and for the gladiators, she’s the Scandal Examiner, too.
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