“You are a convicted felon Mr. Hoskins. You are that until proven otherwise. Prove otherwise at all times.” So we hear in the trailer’s voice-over for Carlos López Estrada‘s Sundance flick Blindspotting. The Hoskins in question is Collin, an Oakland black man who’s on his very last days of probation after a prior conviction. He’s played by Hamilton‘s Daveed Diggs, who co-wrote the film with his Spanish-American friend Rafael Casal. Where Diggs’ Collin is intent on keeping a low profile, Miles (played by Casal) is a lit fuse of a white Oakland native who’s likely to go off on any and everyone who comes in his path. Can they stay out of trouble long enough for Collin to get his life back together, or will reckless Miles cost him everything he’s tried to build?
Capturing the racial tension of the ever-gentrifying Bay Area, Blindspotting pulses with the energy of a hip-hop video thanks in part to its Mexican-born, Latin Grammy-winning director Lopez Estrada. Its daytime scenes are adorned by graffiti. Its nighttime ones with red and neon lights. But beyond the decked out cars, the guns, the braided hair, and the requisite take on police brutality (one night Collin witnesses a young black man gunned down by, you guessed it, a white cop) the film breathes that Oakland air in its musicality. Playing like a heightened hip-hop musical — with actual sequences having Diggs and Casal prove why they’re two of the best spitters in the game — this is as timely and necessary a summer movie as you’re likely to find. Anchored by the buddy comedy duo at its center, this is the rare film that dares to tackle real-life issues with verve all the while being an intense journey that will have you at the edge of your seat until that very last frame. It’s a modern-day West Coast version of a Spike Lee joint filtered through a Hamilton sensibility.
Blindspotting opens in theaters on July 20, 2018.