The Inspection Review

As diversity in film and equality in Hollywood has started to spread through the film industry, more and more movies have started telling LGBT stories. Some are comedies, and others are very serious fare, such as The Inspection. In this film, Elegance Bratton writes and directs what amounts to a movie about his time in boot camp in the US Marine Corps.

Ellis French (Jeremy Pope) is a young homeless man who doesn’t get along with his mother, Inez French (Gabrielle Union) because he is gay. He joins the Marines, but when he gets to boot camp, he finds a lot of hate and homophobic men who despise him for his sexual orientation. He struggles to survive with the help of Rosales (Raul Castillo). His Drill Sergeant, Leland Laws (Bokeem Woodbine), hates him and doesn’t want him in his platoon. This causes problems for everybody involved.

Bratton infused this script and film with his essence. His life is all over this character. It’s a character that has to overcome a lot at home and in boot camp. The men in the boot camp scenes, specifically the Drill Sergeant and his other trainers, are depicted very realistically in the movie. These sequences in the film reminded me of Full Metal Jacket, in which Army Lee Ermey was a very evil-spirited Drill Sergeant who persecuted Vincent D’onofrio’s Private Pyle. Pope channeled this performance by D’onofrio. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for what he was going through in the film.

Even though this picture is a very powerful damnation of our military service, it has a few issues regarding the filming of the movie. There are a couple of scenes where the shallow depth of field creeps its ugly head up. And Bratton uses a few too many close-ups to get emotions out of the character’s faces. The emotion comes from the story and acting. If those are done correctly, you don’t need a lot of close-ups. It felt a little too claustrophobic to me with all these tight scenes.

Jeremy Pope is entirely new for me as an actor. I vaguely remember him in One Night in Miami… but this turn in The Inspection is a revelation to me. He exudes so much emotion in the boot camp scenes that I could not help but be appalled by what I was seeing from all of these men. Even though Castillo’s character was a friend to him, he still had sadness about him in many scenes throughout the movie. Bratton got the most out of the cast but especially Pope, who should be considered for a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for this raw portrayal of a young gay Black man who wants to serve his country after the fallout of 9/11.

The Inspection is an indictment of the United States Marines in the way it treated men who were different regarding religion and sexual preference. Even though men and women are asked if they are gay, they still exist in the military, whether they answer yes or no. It’s part of this world whether people like it or not. Having a Black man in the key role of the persecutor was a great way to show prejudices aren’t just in white people — they are everywhere and within everyone to some extent.

4 stars

Dan Skip Allen

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