CROWN HEIGHTS – A Review by Hollywood Hernandez
In 1980, Colin Warner (played by Lakeith Stanfield) was charged with a crime he did not commit. He was convicted and spent 21 years in prison, including four years in solitary confinement. All the while he was in prison his friend Carl King (Nnamdi Asomugha) never gave up on correcting this injustice. This is the true story of the movie Crown Heights.
Crooked cops, an injustice justice system and the politics of the day (Ronald Reagan's "Get Tough on Crime Policies") all steam rolled Warner's efforts to prove his innocence. His friend, Carl King, soon discovered that without money for adequate legal counsel a poor man had no access to the justice system. But he never gave up.
While the movie portrays a jaw dropping look at our judicial system for poor people and minorities it is also a hopeful movie about faith, hope and friendship. Carl King almost lost his family to his commitment to prove his friend innocent, but still he never quits trying. He's convinced that the injustice of his friend could easily be him. He never stops trying to right the wrong.
Marsha Stephanie Blake plays Briana his childhood sweetheart who is also convinced of his innocence and she makes him a promise that one day she will be there to drive him home from prison. They develop a romantic relationship while he's in prison and she waits for him during his entire 21 years of incarceration.
Crown Heights won the Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival with good reason. Lakeith Stanfield as Collin is amazing in his portrayal of a man wrongly imprisoned. The actor has to cover a full range of emotions of a man who loses hope, finds love, and discovers the true meaning of friendship. Stanfield does a masterful job.
The movie is rated "R" for violence and sexual situations and it has a run time of 94 minutes. While gut wrenching to watch, I enjoyed Crown Heights very much. At the very end of the movie it's closing credits make the point that there are about 2.4 million people currently in prison in the United States. It's estimated that over 120,000 are innocent. On my "Hollywood Popcorn Scale" this movie gets my highest rating, A JUMB0 (with extra butter)
Directed by: Matt Ruskin
Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Nnamdi Asomugha, Natalie Paul