Crown Heights’ biggest highlight is probably the story of Colin Warner itself. Based on a true story, Warner’s situation of being wrongfully accused of a crime he did not commit only begins to draw your interest. Within the story, we have almost two movies in one depicting Colin’s struggles in prison, and the parallel struggles of his friend Carl King trying to free Colin.
Another aspect of the film that I really enjoyed was that it wasn’t over utilizing any racist tones. Unlike a movie like Detroit, where racism is a heavy theme, Crown Heights focuses more so on the broken law system. It forces us all to really pay attention to not just the prison system, but the judicial system and policing as a whole.
Let’s move on to the main actors. Lakeith Stanfield (who plays Colin Warner) was very impressive in this role, in my opinion. There were a number of scenes when Stanfield would react in ways that force us all to empathize with his character’s plight. You simply can’t help but to connect with the character. During the entire film, you simply want to root for any type of personal win that he can manage.
Next up we’ve got Nnamdi Asomugha stepping in to play the role of Carl King. I must admit that he exceeded my expectations given the fact that he’s only been in less than a handful of feature films. (He was also a former NFL athlete.) He really brought to the life the dedication and embodiment of what “best friends forever” truly means.
The director/writer Matt Ruskin does a nice job of compacting a lot of the events all within just an hour and a half of time. What stood out the most was the time elapsing throughout the scenes. Each time you see time go by, your heart sinks. It’s almost as if you’re in the prison with Colin and counting the days away. I thought it was a nice touch to have the actual real life Colin Warner do some narrating during some parts of the film too.
I’m not sure if this is “bad” or not, but I do wonder if the film could’ve benefited from a bit more of Colin’s story in jail. Colin has been on record to say there were a lot of things that happened in jail that people simply wouldn’t believe. Now, I can’t help but wonder what could’ve been, and what impact it may have had on audiences had we seen it.
Crown Heights was simply an amazing movie to me. It gives you a slightly different perspective of the prison system. I thought it was great to see the effects of what prison life could do an actual innocent person. If you go into this movie clueless about the situation, the twists and turns of the story will seem like an episode out of Law and Order.
If you have the opportunity to watch this film, I’d definitely encourage it. See it in theaters, video on demand, or dvd. Just see it. After watching Crown Heights, I immediately called up my own best friend to tell him that if he were ever wrongfully convicted, I’d fight for him too. You know a movie is good when it’s got you calling up your friends to tell them random things like that.
Genre: Biography| Crime|Drama
Directed by: Matt Ruskin
Starring: Lakeith Stanfield, Nnamdi Asomugha, Natalie Paul
Written by: Matt Ruskin