It's difficult to be critical about a film discussing politically or morally sensitive issue. Why? Well you might quite easily be misunderstood as down-playing or even disregarding the undoubtedly noble intentions of the film-maker or the issue in itself. This false or even forced reticence is, though understandable, a shame.
George Amponsah’s The Hard Stop documents the (un)lawful killing of Mark Duggan, a young black man shot by the metropolitan police five years ago this summer. More than that it is a piercingly honest depiction of its repercussions on the lives of Duggan’s friends, family and events that led to the London riots. At its core it’s a film about injustice. Critical dishonesty then is (in its own small way) a disservice.
I’ll admit, I initially thought that it’d force an agenda, that it’d conspicuously select evidence in such a way as to be a piece of transparent propaganda. It doesn’t. In fact the docufilm’s non-interventionist realism encourages balance. It acknowledges the tragedy, whilst not being blindly uncritical of its protagonists' faults. If we're honest this tendency to favourably review films about sensitive subjects gets in the way. More to the point this powerfully human document of the pain and ensuing chaos of the London riots is all the more visceral precisely because it doesn’t present a reductive, easy-to-swallow message: it lets the events speak for themselves.