Film Review: “Monster” (2021)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What should the justice system do to preserve the old adage “innocent until proven guilty”? Can the justice system exercise its right for due process and try someone who they feel is a suspect for a crime?

Steve is on the path towards a bright future. Studying film, and armed with a camera, the world seems to be perfect looking through the lens of his camera. However, his perfect world comes crashing down when the police arrive at night to charge him with a felony, which, if found guilty, can jail him for twenty-five years.

When we meet Steve (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), he is the sharpest boy in the class. His eloquent language, ability to go deep to explain simple things in little nuances is admirable. By looking at him, and especially at his loving parents (Jeffrey Wright and Jennifer Hudson), you can tell Steve Harmon is the definition of perfection. However, when immediately after we see him with his lawyer (Jennifer Ehle), you will find yourself stunned. Because it is impossible for someone like Steve to take someone’s life or even assist in taking one. However, when Kelvin Harrison Jr. delivers the line ‘I did not do it,’ you quickly remember him from “Luce”, asking yourself maybe he is not as innocent as he claims to be. Knowing how great Harrison Jr. is, it won’t be easy to crack him even till the end.

“Monster” is a legal drama in which a young man’s life is threatened by the murder of a man in a bodega. There are many circumstances that led to the unfortunate culmination of robbery. But the question is why was Steve in front of the store, guarding on the outside? Was his presence a mere coincidence or was it a planned move? These type of questions will be asked many times and the jurors, you will see, are not sitting on the bench to waste their time. They are there to distinguish between guilty and innocent, good or bad, tell the difference between a human being and a monster.

Adapted from Walter Dean Myers’ novel with the same title, and directed by Anthony Madler, it takes us to the familiar road of the American Justice System, which is not as biased as it may look. We understand that Steve Harmon must face the trial, and it’s up to his lawyer to present his case as strongly as possible. It’s a beautifully crafted, slow-paced court drama that paints the image of a young man who stands to lose much because of keeping the wrong company and bad friends. And he may indeed end up losing everything for nothing.

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