I am going to try to be as diplomatic as possible when saying the following: the police force has been known to attract some extremely corrupt individuals to join its ranks. I’m pretty sure that’s the understatement of the century, but I digress. We all know that there has always been a racially charged violent undercurrent in the police department since…I don’t know…its inception?
The cops have a history of beating and killing black people and other people of color since before anyone reading this was born. It’s a fact that is both glaringly obvious yet simultaneously furiously attempted to be swept under the rug. OF COURSE, there are police officers that aren’t violent racists, there are black police officers, and there are good people who actually want to protect and serve. That goes without saying, but this is not who I’m talking about.
In CHICKENS, director Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr. brings us to the scene of a crime that was actually committed by police officers. The two officers are there in the pizza restaurant with the three people that are still alive. One hearing impaired white girl named Emily (Amelia Hensley, Beautiful Sounds of Love) who works at the restaurant and a black couple who are customers. The black man that one of the white officers choked to death with his billy club is on the floor. We don’t know what happened in the original encounter, we’re only here for the aftermath.
Both cops are the bad guys here. It seems at first as if one of them, Officer Hobbs (William J. Beaumont, We All Fall Down) is not so bad, but nope, they both are. There is one who is just the worst. Brian Ramian (Tinnitus) plays Officer Marty O’Shea and he is channeling Bill Forsythe as Sherriff Wydell in Devil’s Rejects mixed with Tom Sizemore’s Jack Scagnetti in Natural Born Killers with a heaping helping of Jasper Pakkonen’s Felix Kendrickson from BlackKklansman.
This is a man that somehow in 2017 (when CHICKENS was made) still hates black people with a passion. He delivers an emboldened speech filled with racist epithets to the black couple at the table, Troy and Angie, played by Chris Sackey (Welcome To the Night) and Jai’lyn Spivey (in her debut role).
Things get worse before they get so much better. The cops think they have all their bases covered, but they don’t. That is when, thanks in part to a black dispatch operator played by Choice Skinner (Black Lightning: Tobias’ Revenge) lets the officers known that the chickens have come home to roost this time and that racism will no longer be tolerated within the police department or anywhere, at least in the world of this film.
I enjoyed CHICKENS immensely and hope that Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr. makes more fast-paced films with a satisfying social commentary in the future. We need these kinds of films now more than ever, so that hopefully one day, through the lessons they teach us, the only time we experience racist atrocities is through works of fiction that are based in the past.