Emergency (2022) review: Eye-opening tale of American hypocrisy on racism

Emergency is a teen drama surrounding two boys of colour, Sean and Kunle, whose supposedly celebratory night turns into a chain of unexpected events and fear. Emergency is now streaming on Prime Video.

Story

Kunle and Sean are all set to become the first black men in their college to complete a legendary tour- attending seven parties in one evening. They dream of seeing their picture on the “Black wall of honour” in the college.

Kunle is black excellence who has made it to Princeton. He is working on his graduate thesis and has prepared several bacteria cultures. His parents are doctors, and he has had a happy childhood with no real experience of “racism.”

However, Sean is a guy with no immediate career plans. He loves to party and plans the entire legendary tour. He has had an unstable childhood and experienced racism in many instances.

As Sean and Kunle step out to go into the first party, some unfinished business brings them back home. Unexpectedly, at home, they find an unconscious white girl, while their roommate Carlos hasn’t a clue.

Terrified by the thought of cops finding an unconscious white girl at the residence of three brown boys, they decide not to dial the emergency number. Following this, several plans to tackle the situation fail and lead to unexpected and traumatic experiences for Kunle, Sean, and Carlos.

Performances

The cast ensemble was decent, and every actor played their part well. RJ Cyler and Donald Elise Watkins well portrayed the chemistry between Sean and Kunle. 

As Kunle and Sean are two opposite-natured characters, their on-screen persona had to be convincing and yet engaging, which I think, both the actors succeeded in portraying.

In fact, the character of Maddie, played by Sarah Carpenter, was well enough. Of course, there was nothing extraordinary about the performance but the actors gave their best for each of the roles.

Carlos, played by Sebastian Chacos, has a comical role, and he also plays it well. Now it was up to the writers to create the best comical degree, but Sebastian did his best with whatever he was given to work with.

Positives

It is a decently written movie concerning the primary theme of racism and its impact on modern-day youth. However, it also features the hypocrisy of contemporary American society on racism that somewhere shapes the problematic decision-making skills of the protagonists.

Addressing racism from different angles through a simple story is quite well done. The drama was not forced in the entire film except for the last twenty minutes. The subtle transition in the film’s events acquainted with logic is appreciable.

Another favourite angle of the story was the different lives Kunle and Sean have lived. Both being black have nothing in common except their skin colour. Kunle feels uncomfortable with other black guys, and Sean has lived half of his life knowing what racism is.

An elderly white couple assumes that three brown guys could only be selling drugs, whereas a “Black lives matter” signboard stays fixed in from of their home- a classic example of hypocrisy in American society.

Dialogues were also good concerning the teenage state of mind influenced by fear of racism, drugs, and privilege. Finally, when we talk about the shots, the special montage of Sean visualizing the legendary tour gets me five stars from me. 

The lighting of the film was pretty good. Michael Dallatore does a great job of illuminating the party sets and capturing the vibe adequately.

Negatives

Understandably, the director wanted to portray an uncomfortable racist society that can make things go wrong, really wrong but the attempt to make a commentary on the hypocrisy of the white supremacy society needed to be more prominent and robust in expression.

It is highly unlikely that anyone would compare Emergency to the classic films addressing racism, but if one does, it will fall millions of ranks back.

Another drawback of the film was its lack of consistence suspense. Not calling the emergency number cooks up a story of unforeseeable, but we were clear about what was happening and why.

Eventually, if there was at all a necessity to continue the film after the cops let go of Kunle and Carlos, the following scenes should have been more impactful.

Verdict

Emergency is a good watch considering the concept of the story. The cast is good, their performance is decent, and some shots are beautiful. However, there is nothing extraordinary in the portrayal.

So, if you are a regular film enthusiast, spending some time watching Emergency is fine but if you are looking for a once-in-a-week life turning movie, then perhaps find something else.

Rating: 3/5


Also Read: Emergency (2022) summary and ending explained