Coming to theatres from writer/director Elegance Bratton and A24 is the story of survival and acceptance from THE INSPECTION.
Ellis French (Jeremy Pope) is trying to find his place in life. He decides that the U.S. Marine Corps may be the answer of finding a path forward. Going to mom Inez (Gabrielle Union), he is met with a brick wall as she makes it clear that he had better come back straightened out. Parris Island, South Carolina is where French lands for boot camp.
Almost immediately, it seems that the instructor, Leland Laws (Bokeem Woodbine) has it out for French. Boot camp is tough enough for all the new recruits but Laws takes advantage. Keeping his hands clean, Laurence Harvey (McCaul Lombardi) becomes the person to especially watch out for.
Aware of what is happening, Rosales (Raul Castillo) tries to intervene when things become dangerous. Instead of running away, French tries to help fellow recruit Ismail (Eman Esfandi) who is dealing with his own abuses.
Taking it day by day, French begins to not only find his voice, but the strength to stand. When the voice of dissent comes, it is his brothers who stand with him as well.
Pope as French is a young man torn up by the streets. Living on his own since he was 16 and disconnected from his mother, the state of the world leads him to the Marines. Pope gives the performance of a man that has lived in fear and uncertainty.
Union as Inez is a character that is just distasteful in every aspect of being a human being. That has to be a tough role for Union to play knowing there would be that reaction but her performance embraced all the ugly in Inez and she went for it.
Woodbine as Laws is what you would expect from an instructor in boot camp. That being said, he goes far beyond the yelling, screaming and insulting into a dangerous zone. Woodbine’s performance is straight forward and straight-faced during scenes where my jaw was dropping. Well done.
Castillo as Rosales knows that Laws is crossing the lines in so many ways and tries to be the buffer between the boot camp life and that line. That is a difficult place as he has issues of his own that are coming to the surface. Esfandi as Ismail is stereotyped by Laws and uses that to the point of breaking his spirit. It is heartbreaking to watch which translates into a very good performance.
Lombardi as Harvey seems to enjoy being the mini-Laws. He shows no sympathy or emotion to what he is doing and who he is doing it to. Harvey is the definition of absolute power corrupts absolutely and Lombardi holds nothing back as this character.
Other cast includes Nicholas Logan as Brooks, Andrew Kai as Label, Aubrey Joseph as Boles, Wynn Reichert as Chaplain, Eddie Plaza as Bam Bam, Tyler Merritt as Shamus, Steve Mokate as Col. Casey and Aaron Dominguez as Castro.
A24 is an independent entertainment company that specializes in film and television production based in New York City. Films such as A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III, the amazing EX MACHINA, ROOM and THE WITCH. Many of their films can be found on DirecTV Cinema and Amazon Prime. For more information, please visit www.a24films.com.
The Chicago International Film Festival nominated Elegance Bratton for Best Feature and Gold Q-Hugo, the Gotham Awards also nominated Elegance Bratton for the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award and Outstanding Supporting Performance by Gabrielle Union. The Montclair Film Festival gives Bratton the award for Breakthrough Director & Writer and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival gives the Virtuoso Award to Jeremy Pope.
THE INSPECTION is a story of struggle, pain, love, loss, and the journey of finding a path and French gives the heart-tugging performance needed to make the story work. Union’s character is still just a reminder of so many people’s beliefs to the point of hurting family. I know people like Inez and watching this character is just so painful.
Woodbine and Castillo remind me of Sgt. Barnes and Sgt. Elias from the 1986 film PLATOON. That being destruction vs. understanding and although one could say that instructors are always like this, even Castillo’s character of Rosales knows the line may be thin but there is a line and Laws puts just one toe over it to meet his own need for control.
Through the struggle is the constant search for acceptance, especially when it can’t be found from French’s own flesh and blood. That internal part of this character is that he slowly begins to see his own self worth and that is everything.
In the end – it is a struggle for one man’s life!