Monsters and Men is a stirring film that illuminates the different ways people are affected by police brutality. Written and directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the movie that stars Anthony Ramos, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and John David Washington is a must-see for anyone willing to take a closer look at the ongoing police violence against Black men in America.
When an unarmed Black man is killed by police while standing outside of a store, selling single cigarettes in his Bed-Stuy neighborhood in Brooklyn, it’s impossible not to recall the tragic circumstances of Eric Garner’s tragic death. The event perpetrated onscreen is almost identical to the real-life incident and the repercussions are presented from three different perspectives.
First, is John David Washington’s character of Dennis; a police officer who is torn between loyalty to his fellow officers, corrupt as they may be; and his own anger, pain, and responsibility as a Black man.
Anthony Ramos plays a Manny, a friend of the deceased who witnesses the entire altercation and records it on his phone. With a daughter and pregnant wife at home, he’s forced to decide whether or not to release the footage to the world or protect himself from the powers trying to silence him.
The third perspective comes from a high school athlete named Zyrick (played by Kelvin Harrison Jr.) whose bright future as a professional baseball player could be jeopardized if he follows his natural instinct to protest police brutality within his community.
We caught up with to of the films stars to find out what attracted them to their riveting roles in the unique and powerful project.
John David Washington explains that the structure of the story was something he had never seen on film and he was compelled to take on the role in part, by his own curiosities.
“What is it like being an African-American police officer? I had no idea. I was on one side of the argument, if you will. To be able to go one these ride alongs and meet some of the men and women who are doing things in the community that are very positive…that was exciting. There was a lot of information that I was unaware of,” he said during an exclusive interview with TheGrio.
“The storylines and how they blended together…What happens to the people who end up recording these crimes? What happens to them? I loved the perspective. It was something new for me that I haven’t seen in cinema.”
The actor admitted that he had an emotional response to the character and what he had to contend with and expects audiences might have a similar experience after watching the film.
“I would hope that they would experience what I experienced during those ride alongs and even the anxiety I get sometimes watching what Dennis is going through. Having to be on that tight rope emotionally,” he said. “I just think that information and perspective are so important in this film. I hope they will maybe want to seek out somebody that looks like them in a uniform and ask them some questions or even thank them.”
Anthony Ramos revealed how important it was for him to take on the role of Manny.
“I love the role. The role is awesome. His storyline and what happens to him is unfortunate but I think it was the movie and the message. I think Manny’s role plays a huge part in the message. How far will we go to do the right thing? How much are we willing to sacrifice to do what we know in our heart is right?,” pondered the Grammy and Tony Award-winning actor.
“Any piece of art that is challenging us as a people to challenge ourselves and ask ourselves the questions and to do the right thing is something that I am honored to be a part of and something that I want to be part of forever.”
Check out the full interview above.
Monsters and Men premieres in select theaters September 28 and opens nationwide on October 5.