Not the Way the World Works (but that’s okay): I always have a problem with movies where the hero says, “This guy has framed me for murder, so I’ll just kill him and everything will be okay,” but the most ridiculous example had to be Collateral, because of the racial element. If a black cabbie kills a white man in a nice suit, even if there’s a black woman there to vouch for him, then forget it, he’s getting the chair. This movie doesn’t have the frame element but could be accused of the same “get away with killing white people” problem, and indeed the original ending was Chris getting hauled away, but I think they get away with a happy ending here by simply letting us have that moment of horror when Chris sees the police lights and raises his hands and we suddenly realize how all this will look…but then the relief washes over us when it’s his friend. We know it’s bogus, but at least the movie let us glimpse what would really happen before giving us the less-realistic-but-more-satisfying stand-up-and-cheer ending.
Mystery Plotting: I could rehash them here, but I’ll just point you to this list of Easter eggs showing the movie’s meticulous plotting and imagery. One reason this movie made so much money is because people were watching it twice, and finding it even more satisfying the second time, which usually isn’t the case with “big twist” movies.
National Pain: How do you solve a problem like Trayvon Martin? How do you address that pain in a movie? You can make a movie like Fruitvale Station about the facts of the case, and that would certainly be worth making, or you can make a movie like this, about the growing horror black men feel that they’re not safe in white neighborhoods. Drama is how it is, genre is how it feels, and they’re both equally valid.