Director: Abi Damaris Corbin
Screenwriters: Abi Damaris Corbin and Kwame Kwei-Armah
Starring: John Boyega, Michael Kenneth Williams, Nicole Beharie, and Selenis Leyva
Cinematographer: Doug Emmett
Sundance Synopsis: Living in a cheap motel in Atlanta and separated from his wife and child, former U.S. Marine veteran Brian Easley is desperate. Driven to the brink by forces beyond his control, the soft-spoken, kind man decides to rob a bank and hold hostages with a bomb. As police, media, and family members descend on the bank and Brian, it becomes clear he’s not after money — he wants to tell his story and have what is rightfully his, even if it costs him his life.
Abi Damaris Corbin’s anxiety-inducing 892 calls out the Veterans Affairs (the VA) organization much like its predecessors. The story of Brian Easley is what happens when this country goes back on its word to protect the Veterans who served it. It’s the devastating depiction of desperation when resources are limited and mental health isn’t a priority. This based-on-a-true-story film packs the emotional and desperate punches into a script that brought out much anger in me and is bound to be one of the talks of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
About mid-way through Damaris Corbin’s debut feature, audiences will learn the meaning behind the film’s title 892. It’s heartbreaking, to say the least, but it’s a simple moment that leads to the poignant manifestation of how badly this country treats its Veterans. With this scene comes an incredible performance from John Boyega whose hostage situation begins to no longer make any sense to anyone but him. And seeing everyone’s reaction around him as he simultaneously takes in that realization was emotionally devastating.
Scenes like this normally wouldn’t and shouldn’t work; but thanks to Damaris Corbin’s stellar direction and the elegant and masterful editing from Chris Witt, this story pulled me in more than I anticipated. I should also be thanking Nicole Beharie, who with one simple look, can command the attention of an entire bank and get everyone to safety. And in his final screen role, Michael K. Williams reminds us of his ultimate legacy – conviction and emotion – as he plays the negotiator from the confinements of a run-down car. It’s soft moments and great performances like these that are simply exceptional and elevated this derivative script to a great film.