When I saw the promo poster of the movie Kings with Daniel Craig and Halle Berry on it, I was like “Wow! I’ve got to watch this!”
In the poster, you see three scenes: Halle Berry cuddling up with five children, then Halle Berry standing outside a car looking really mad, and the third was of her and Craig next to each other, with the tag line “Don’t let your family get caught in the crossfire.” I was ready to be wowed and amazed.
Kings is a movie about survival in the 1992 Los Angeles riots. But it is only very loosely based on the events and is more of a creative expression written by Deniz Gamze Ergüven. I say this because I floated through the first few minutes of the movie.
Millie Dunbar (Halle) is a struggling working class single mother in South Central Los Angeles who can’t stand to see children being homeless.
Besides her teenage son Jesse (Lamar Johnson) and daughters Peaches (Serenity Reign Brown) and Sherridane (Ce'Onna Meilani Johnson), she has also taken in Tiger (Reece Cody), Ruben (Callan Farris), Shawnte (Issac Ryan Brown), and eventually Kaalan Rashad Walker (William MCgee).
She struggles between a full-time job and baking cakes to make ends meet, but the failure to do so is quite glaring. Jesse doesn’t understand why she puts herself and them, her biological children, through such a hard time when she could have easily looked the other way.
Obie (Craig) is a reclusive white man in an area with mostly African-American, Hispanic and Asian residents. He lives next to Millie and is constantly complaining about the noise levels from her house, which he says interferes with his thoughts when he’s trying to write.
The movie starts off with two March 1991 incidents that may have led to the riots: the death of 15-year-old American girl Latasha Harlins who was shot in the head on by Soon Ja Du, a 51-year-old female convenience store owner from South Korea, on the 16th; and the American taxi driver Rodney King who was a victim of police brutality on the 3rd.
Jesse comes across Nicole (Rachel Hilson), a rebellious and very outspoken girl, at his school. He later discovers that she’s homeless and tries to help her out as he seeks to impress her.
When the verdicts of the murder cases are read out and they are in favour of the defendants, all hell breaks loose. Millie has to ensure her children make it through the riots safely.
I liked the movie at some points. The child actors were amazingly talented and their acting was impressive. I see a lot of breakout stars just from this movie alone.
The desperation in the situation also leaps at you from the screen, especially how the family has to scavenge for food. It speaks to the issue of justice and equality in a highly charged space like the US currently is now.
But the script, or rather the plot, is sometimes seriously confusing. In some places it goes back and forth. Some scenes look like they were put in to throw you off, while also trying to imply something about the characters.
There were times I felt the movie was a cut and paste of scenes just to add to the run time.
Art is an expression left to everyone’s interpretation, but I did feel there were points that I did not understand.
So I have plot holes that I am yet to figure out. Kind of like when someone is translating things to you from a language you don’t understand and they skip a few lines, then just pick up from where they find their bearing.
Beware; this is an adult movie with strong language, nudity and some violent scenes.