John Boyega revisits a tragic true story

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This review was originally published as part of Sundance 2022 coverage.

In 2017, Lance Corporal Brian Easley He made national headlines when he walked into a Wells Fargo bank in Atlanta, Georgia, and told a cashier that a bomb was in his bag. His intentions were not to rob the bank, as some might expect. His plan was to use the hostage situation to draw attention to the fact that the Department of Veterans Affairs had withheld an $892 check he was in possession of. Despite the best efforts of some first responders who recognized Easley’s desperation, he was still, in the end, a black man in America with a mental health crisis.

Easley’s story and its tragic outcome were later reported Mission and purpose Reporter Aaron Gillwhose detailed coverage of the system an American warrior failed to inspire Daddy Damaris Corbin And the Kwame koi throw itScenario. The film also happens to be a directing appearance by Corbin, and she displays a keen eye for capturing evocative, character-driven shots without ever being gratuitous. Even Easley’s tragic death is respectfully portrayed, providing only a grim trail of blood as the robot Andros departs from his dead body.

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John Boyega I stepped into the role of Isley last year when Jonathan Majors He was committed to his obligations to Marvel. Boyega is without a doubt one of the best and brightest artists of his generation. While star Wars It may have completely brought him into the public eye, his ability to beautifully convey a whole gamut of human emotions DetroitAnd the small axand now broke down He earned his place as a powerful mover in the industry. It’s not easy to embody the role of Easley because he was a realist who met a tragic end just five years ago.

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Where there may be an impulse to bend into PTSD, schizophrenia, and paranoia for dramatic effect, Boyega instead plays his part with a thoughtful nuance. In a short amount of time, you’ll care so much about Easley that the ending heartbreak is so much worse. Even when he reveals his plans at the bank and takes Estel Valerie (Nicole Behariand Rosa DiazSelenis Leva) hostage, you can sympathize with him and understand what pushed him to the brink. Bihari gives a great performance, trying to maintain a calm and collected demeanor, while containing her fear. Leyva and Beharie both worked well with Boyega, helping to convey that sense of awe mixed with understanding.


Despite the arrival of a fairly diverse police force, there is no confusion here as to which side the cops are standing on as they prepare to take the two hostages out. It doesn’t flow like the hostage negotiations in the movies because this is based on a true story – the police are slow to respond, the press tie in, the FBI refuses to communicate with the family, and they ultimately fail, not only Isley, but the hostages have to live with the guilt of his death.

As the cops try to figure out their plan, Easley contacts a local news reporter named Lisa Larson (Connie Britton) who resonates with an ear to listen. You interact with him thoughtfully, trying to understand his motives and talk through his desperate actions. They discussed his daughter, his military service, and his frustrating experience with the VA. During these moments, Corbin uses clever flashbacks – showing snippets of conversations with his daughter, his tour abroad, and his dead-end conversations with VA. It helps the audience connect with Easley, without detracting from the present.


In one of his last roles, Michael K. Williams Depicted by Ellie Bernard, a fictional version of Sgt. Andre Bates, the negotiator who finally arrived at the scene. Like Easley, he was a former Marine, and a black man, who dealt with the Department of Veterans Affairs. broke down He frames their conversations with the same heartbreak as a true story, pulling direct quotes from recordings of that fateful day. By all accounts, the negotiator thought Easley would walk out of the bank alive once they reached an agreement. He was confident that Easley’s life was worth more than $892.

What is really heartbreaking broke down is that Easley’s death accomplishes nothing. The police department felt its actions were justified, and the Department of Veterans Affairs did not correct their mistake or pay his family what was owed to him; There has been no reform at the Department of Veterans Affairs, a movement to resolve the veteran’s homelessness crisis, or guidance to improve mental health care. His ordeal was anomalous, it’s the norm for the number of veterans being treated in America. Hopefully, with the renewed interest in his story this movie will gain, something can be done to help the next Brian Easley, before it’s too late.


broke down It’s a solid movie that will leave audiences reeling as the credits roll. Corbin and Armah meticulously adapt a tragic reality and present it with kindness and understanding, which we hope will force audiences to reflect on the reality in which they live. For some people, the systems in place for so-called assistance, offering help in the form of brochures, long lines and sniper sights.

Class: a

broke down Opens in theaters August 26.

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