Ryan Coogler makes a powerful film debut with Fruitvale Station, the true-life story of Oscar Grant, the 22 year old who was shot by the police at the eponymous station on New Year’s Day in 2009. At the centre of the film is Michael B. Jordan, who delivers a well balanced performance as Grant, creating a riveting look at the young man’s final hours.
On the surface there appears to be very little going on in Fruitvale Station, but it’s a film of many layers and it would seem that Coogler is going to have a strong career behind the camera. Sylvester Stallone has already handed him the keys to the Rocky franchise with Creed, a film which follows the boxing of career of Apollo Creed’s grandson. That film will also star Jordan in the title role (he’s already got a superhero gig in The Fantastic Four reboot).
Fruitvale Station is a film that is as much about humanity as it is about racial tension and Coogler gets his script right. It’s interesting to watch Fruitvale Station now in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. These things appear to be cyclical and there are some strong parallels to the recent events that occurred in 2009.
Coogler certainly makes an impression with Fruitvale Station. It’s a stirring debut and let’s hope he doesn’t get chewed up by the Hollywood machine as he tries to carve out a career with his unique voice. Meanwhile Michael B. Jordan just might be the heir apparent to Denzel Washington’s brand of acting honesty.