Like most films that highlight the recurring tragedy of unarmed black men killed by the hands of the law and other entitled individuals, filmmaker Marc Silver's 3 1/2 MINUTES, 10 BULLETS is both sad and infuriating. It focuses on the 2014 trial of Michael Dunn for the murder of 17-year-old African-American high school student Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida, for playing loud music at a gas station. While the documentary itself merely gives the audience a bird's eye view of the courtroom narrative, it punctuates the point that is too often forgotten in these cases: It is Dunn who is on trial here, not Davis.
Davis's character is not as much interrogated as it is revealed to inform the case. Whereas Dunn's character is scrutinized and dissected for the same reason. Most importantly, the question perpetuated throughout is who was Dunn on the night of the murder and was that a change from who he typically is. I keep coming back to the phrase "self-denial," which was repeated a lot during the film as it refers to the idea that Dunn was always a hateful racist and didn't realize it until this particular situation arose. To hear Dunn talk about his own character on the stand, through a shaky voice and teary eyes, one would believe that he was as shocked by his actions as, well, Davis probably was. Even scarier, he believed he was actually the victim.
Of course, as the details are unfolded in 3 1/2 MINUTES, 10 BULLETS, the terrifying side of Dunn is also exposed--through both the surprising testimony of his girlfriend and his own. Juxtaposed with the trial scenes are Davis's parents, Ron Davis and Lucia McBath, whose grief lends itself to the sadly familiar outcry of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
3 1/2 MINUTES, 10 BULLETS, whose title refers to the method and the amount of time it took for Davis to be taken from this earth, is a brutal reminder that some stories don't need to be dramatized to be compelling. The fact that they happened at all is enough to move an audience to tears and helpless frustration.
Watch the trailer:
3 1/2 MINUTES, 10 BULLETS will premiere on HBO November 23 at 9PM EST/PST.