3 1/2 BULLETS, TEN MINUTES || 2015, USA || Documentary || Directed by – Marc Silver / Written by – Marc Silver / Produced by – Orland Bagwell, Christopher Clements, Bonni Cohen, Julie Goldman, Carolyn Hepburn, Khalilah Neal, Minette Nelson, Jeff Skoll, Leah Natasha Thomas, Diane Weyermann / Music by – Todd Boekelheide / Cinematography – Marc Silver / Editing by – Emiliano Battista, Gideon Gold / Running time: 98 mins.
In 2012, at a Florida gas station, a middle aged white male named Michael Dunn shot and killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis. The shooting escalated from an argument over the loud music blaring from the speakers of the car in which Jordan was seated, along with a group of friends, who also risked their lives in the event.
3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets documents the court trial, which becomes representative of the many plagues of today’s American society. One of them involves gun ownership and the exploitation of the right to self-defense. Another is that of racial tension. As the trial goes on, the racial undertones to the shooting become clearer and clearer, and it even inspires protests and marches as a call to justice and to raise awareness of this problem as the case garners nationwide attention.
Marc Silver’s feature progresses with great urgency and gripping immediacy. The wide use of primary source materials, most notably footage shot in court during the trial but also records of the interrogations and audio of telephone calls with the accused, increase the suspense and the drama, and will genuinely keep the viewers on the edge of their seats. It also offers a more direct examination of the personalities of all involved in the event, of which that of Dunn is particularly captivating.
But Silver is just as interested in this aspect of the story as he is in paying tribute to the painstaking internal struggle lived in first person by the parents of Jordan Davis, and how they cope with the trial as it happens. So, the courtroom drama side of 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets regularly interrupted by sequences in which they talk about what they are going through, as well as their family history, their son and their recollection of their reaction to hearing of the tragic incident. In order to understand Jordan Davis, he also talks to his friends, who were with him on the night he was shot. These sequences mark a shift of tone and mood from aggressive to meditative, allowing the viewers to digest the frantic unravelling of events in the court, despite the juxtaposition occasionally feeling repetitive or sometimes even frustrating. – 3/5