Sundance Film Festival: ‘892’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

There have been moments in everyone’s life where they have reached their breaking point. This one defining break usually happens when there is a string of smaller moments that everyone leaves to build up. Exactly how much injustice can people take until they snap? In the case of Brian Easley (John Boyega) a former U.S. Marine, who has been on disability for a while has not been receiving payments from Veteran Affairs. He has reached his breaking point because no one has been able to fix this issue, thus resulting in a broken system that does not care for the people who fought for their country. Director Abi Damaris Corbin constructs a thriller that has a powerful true story at its centre and it is what keeps you engaged throughout.

892 opens with director Abi Damaris Corbin setting the focus on Easley and the way he goes about his everyday life. There is an instant connection to him once he speaks to his little girl Kiah (London Covington) over the phone. We see that he can’t even stay on the phone with her for too long because he is running out of minutes. As he walks back to the motel that he is currently living in, we understand that he has been struggling for some time. There is a subtlety within Corbin’s direction that sets the tone for the rest of the film. Even the placement of the number 892 on the pavement as Easley walks by gave this story an even more grounded feeling. There were many moving parts in this film; from the bank tellers, to the cops, to the media, they were all incorporated to build the tension.

What is explored through Easley’s character is the PTSD of a marine living in a society that is barely treating him as a human. He gave his life for his country; there was the importance attached to his name in the military, yet when he returned, it’s like the system that he fought for doesn’t even care. So after three attempts to get his money, the soft-spoken and kind Brian Easley decides to rob a bank and hold hostages, Rosa Diaz (Selenis Leyva) and Estel Valerie (Nicole Beharie) with a bomb. Easley’s training as a marine came through at times and his assertiveness when trying to explain his situation to them, the cops and the media was misconstrued and they thought he was crazy. All Easley wanted to do was tell his story, so other veterans wouldn’t have to go through the same thing.

892 has great pacing and a thrilling score composed by Michael Abels. There are some interesting choices in regards to the placement of conversations and the framing for those scenes. This cast all had their time to shine on screen, but John Boyega completely blew me away. He controlled each scene and showed a range of emotions in each conversation he had. Whether it was with Beharie, Levya, Michael K. Williams, or Connie Britton, he was able to build and de-escalate each situation and continuously do that, to show the level of intensity at the right moments. This has Boyega’s best performance to date and it is a thriller worth watching for the story alone.

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