Just because a film aims to cover a period of total anarchy and chaos does not mean that the chaos has to infect every corner of the actual film making itself. Kings is a messy film talking about a messy period in US history.
Kings follows Millie (Halle Berry), and her foster kids, in the days leading up to the major riots that occurred in the city of Los Angeles, after a group of cops were deemed innocent of killing an African American man called Rodney King, despite the existence of video footage showing the incident. Millie is a kind and loving woman who keeps bringing home homeless kids in order to take care of them, and they each have their own story to tell in relation to the period of the riots.
There are many characters. but unfortunately most of them were not developed enough for the audience to tell them apart, let alone care about them at all. Even Millie, the film’s supposed protagonist, is neither explored nor developed. We know, for example, that she bakes cakes, has a soft-spot for kids, and that she has weird sexual dreams about her next-door neighbour Obie (Daniel Craig), who we also know very little about. Obie gets drunk a lot, is British, and fires his shotgun a lot. Even the children who naturally evoke sympathy just by being children do not get enough time on screen for their faces to be distinct and recognisable.
This lack of character development is made worse by the film’s incoherent plot structure; time and place were not always clear, the intertwining lines between the subplots of each group of characters was confusing and the incorporation of archival footage from the actual incidents that happened at the time was sometimes random and abrupt.
Sorry to disappoint all the Craig and Berry fans out there, but no, it wasn’t outstanding; in fact, the film was below average. While Berry nailed the loving motherly character, the chaotic events surrounding her made her shocked facial expressions seem much too repetitive, and over the top. Craig’s performance was good for a crazy drunk guy, but his character is just so out of context.
The film’s ending was also quite random, with a sudden flux chemistry between Obie and Millie and a scene from what seemed to be romantic comedy not a drama. All in all, the film is a total mess, which did a grave injustice to the serious issue it sought to tackle.