Blindspotting/Trainspotting: They are very, very different movies.
While the MoviePass drought rages on (don’t even get me started…), Blindspotting is still a smaller, independent film that’s making its way to a handful of theaters across the nation — and it’s one that is absolutely worth the full price of admission, MoviePass or no MoviePass.
From first-time feature-film director Carlos López Estrada, Blindspotting stars Daveed Diggs — aka the voice of Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton — as Collin.
About a year ago now, Collin made one big, dumb mistake that wound up getting him sent to prison. Of course, the argument can be made that there was some racial profiling that went on during that case, but Collin still knows that he messed up and had to serve two months because of it.
That’s the worst part of it. That came after, during probation.
After getting out, Collin was forced to live in a half-way home for an entire year — a place that required him to have a full-time job, regularly do chores, have an 11 p.m. curfew, not leave the county and to have absolutely no run-ins with law-enforcement whatsoever.
While the not leaving the county part is somewhat difficult due to his job — that being a professional mover, alongside his best-friend Miles (Rafael Casal) — Collin has managed to stick it out for nearly a year now.
In fact, he’s just three days away from being done with probation and ready to get his sweet, sweet freedom back by the time Blindspotting starts.
Yet, as we all know, you shouldn’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.
While coming back from Miles place one night — at a time that’s just past his curfew, thanks to a never-ending red light (one of the most relatable parts of this movie, as we have to stare at that damn thing for a good 45 seconds of silence) — Collin witnesses something he never expected to see: a white police officer gunning down and killing an unarmed African-American man who was just trying to get away in the middle of the street.
Poor Collin is obviously shaken up quite a bit. Yet, he’s now put in a tough spot — if he comes forward with any information about what he saw, he’ll almost certainly be sent back to prison for breaking curfew. However, he’s having a pretty hard time living with the things he saw, as doing nothing seems a lot harder in some ways.
That, then, causes Collin to re-evaluate a lot of different aspects of his life; such as his relationship with Miles and the way Miles interacts with him vs. the way he interacts with his girl Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones) and son Sean (Ziggy Baitinger), as well as his relationship to his ex-girlfriend Val (Janina Gavankar), who also just so happens to work at the same moving company.
As we all know, events like the one that Collin witnessed happen all too common in the world we live in (see Fruitvale Station for another great movie that deals with similar topics). It’s a serious subject that should be talked about and discussed in movies such as Blindspotting.
That being said, I definitely didn’t expect this movie to take on the comedic edge that it had.
By comedic, I don’t mean late-night stoner comedy or anything like that. Don’t show up to a midnight showing of Blindspotting with a bunch of your buddies, expecting to laugh at a whole bunch of sex and fart jokes. This definitely isn’t that, either.
Blindspotting does, however, have a certain amount of wit behind it — most of which comes from the two lead characters of Collin and Miles.
Miles, on the one hand, is the out of control one. He, being a white male who wants to be a gangster, is always saying ridiculous stuff while trying to fit in. He also utterly rejects all of the white hipsters who have started to move into their neighborhood in Oakland (second movie to deal with diversity relations in Oakland this year, after Sorry to Bother You), and refuses to even stand within ten feet of any of them.
Collin pretty much thinks Miles is insane. I mean, they’ve known each other since they were like twelve so they obviously love each other, but Collin is the one always pointing out how out of place Miles looks when saying these things. He’s more than willing to embrace the new, hipster culture (represented by his eagerness to try this new kale shake thing which honestly looks disgusting), as he’s had more than enough experience being the outsider — fitting in, for Collin, means survival.
Collin also does this really cool thing throughout the movie where he bursts into rap out of nowhere and just goes on and on and on with it. It feels slightly jarring at first, but it actually works really well and there’s one moment in particular (you’ll know it when you see it) that I thought was incredibly well done in that regard.
Put those two characters together and you have something of an odd-couple who bounce funny insults off of each other, but also stand for something a whole lot more — Blindspotting really is dealing with some heavy issues (things get pretty dang serious in act three), wrapped in the disguise of something that feels lighter in a Spike Lee kind of way.
Script-wise, there are a few minor issues with Blindspotting. While I respect the way that the film can manage both the heavy and light tones at the same time, there are some moments that can come off as a little heavy-handed or on the nose. Other subplots don’t really pan out or have any kind of resolution, either — most noticeably the one about Collin’s ex-girlfriend, or the fact that he randomly has a younger step-brother in one scene who is then never brought up again.
All in all, though, Blindspotting really manages to do a lot of things right. This isn’t another straight-forward drama with a cliché message — these feel like real people, and it feels like real craftsmanship went into creating the world in which they operate.
Watch the trailer for Blindspotting here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought about the movie!
'Blindspotting' review: Not to be confused with 'Trainspotting'8