Emancipation (2022)

Emancipation (2022)

Movie Details

Emancipation (2022)
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Will Smith, Ben Foster, and Charmaine Bingwa
Movie type: Action/Thriller
Release date: 2 December 2022
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
Languages: English
Duration: 2 Hour 12 Minutes


Emancipation (2022)


Normally I would write that Will Smith wants an Oscar. But he already won it last year, and he, Chris Rock, and at least the other academics will remember it for a few years to come. In any case, after the slap on stage, Smith is banned from these movie awards, and in theory, he might regret it. Especially when this year he sends a drama about a big topic to the world with ambitions to win some prizes. It doesn’t have to be sad, though. If he is a realist, he probably knows that ambitions end at Osvobozenie. Here it smells more like Golden Raspberries.

At the same time, on paper, it could have been a clear candidate for the Oscars. The story is based on real events, it deals with a serious subject, the budget was spared, and Will Smith can act enough to pull it off. The plot revolves around the slave Peter, who managed to escape from a cruel labor camp during the American Civil War and wanted to reach the northerners, who, unlike their opponents from the South, took seriously the fact that slavery was abolished. And so Peter could get free and maybe even find his family, from whom he was separated. But before he manages to get to safety, he and several other slaves must survive a cruel chase through the swamps, where death lurks at every turn.

Well, where to start? Probably with the director, because he is the biggest and maybe actually the only problem of the whole Liberation. However, a really serious problem. Antoine Fuqua specializes in the action genre, and as far as his skills go, he’s a rookie at best. When he has a skilled actor and a good script, he can make an above-average or even really good movie, but most of his filmography consists of pictures that are more or less OK. Such a Shawn Levy of action thrillers. But Levy, whatever we think of him, probably knows where the limits of his abilities are and is careful not to cross them. That’s not what Fuqua did with his news. And he filled his grip terribly.

His pursuit of a “work of art” sometimes feels like a parody of SNL. The director decided to depict the cruelty of the world at that time and the brutality of the slave owners by filming Emancipation practically without color. You might hesitate for a moment if your TV is broken and you start fiddling with the picture settings, but sooner or later you have to accept the fact that Liberation is simply a disgusting movie. And he will irritate his own feet. The scenes from the labor camp, where Peter and the other slaves are building railways and are regularly humiliated, whipped, or shot in the head for any disobedience, are very telling, unfortunately, the atmosphere of blood, mud, sweat, and fear is not conveyed to the viewer. It’s pretty sad to watch how someone had to go to the trouble of building it and how the cinematographer figures out how to get this hell in the middle of the swamps in the frame so that its size stands out when in the end only gray appears. Visual and emotional.

Fuqua manages to be at least a little interesting in the action scenes and during chases through the wilderness, he is helped a lot by the despicable villain Ben Foster, but the film simply never starts to look like what it wants to be, despite all the efforts to appear epic. Fuqua pushes the saw and “makes art” terribly, but if someone behind the camera took a more traditional approach to this genre and the magnificence it offers, the whole thing could really resonate emotionally and not just get boring as the minutes ticked by. How many times have I wondered what Edward Zwick or someone like him could do with this script? Fuqua is fumbling here and doesn’t know how to deal with the genre either as a storyteller or as an image maker.

PWatching Emancipation is exhausting. And sad, because Peter’s story itself is interesting enough to build a gripping grand drama around him that would work on a personal level as well. Instead, this journey into the cruel past is boring, and the closer the end credits get, the more annoying it gets. Liberation will be forgotten within a year. Only the producers should remember him, to whom Fuqua could come in the future saying that he wants to make an Oscar movie instead of another Equalizer.

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