'American Skin:' How Far Should a Marine Go to Seek Justice for His Dead Son?

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Actor/writer/director Nate Parker has a point he'd like to make in the most forceful and direct way possible in a film that anticipates the chaos of 2020.

"American Skin" looks like the sort of movie you'd want to see with a large crowd to see how the group reacts to the controversy it aims to provoke, but, alas, this one is coming to video on demand on January 15th. We've got a first look at the trailer.

Parker plays Lincoln Jefferson, whose character name should clue you in to the fact that the director is aiming for the least subtle messaging possible. Jefferson is a Marine who fought in Iraq and now he's back home in the States to raise a family.

He's pulled over by a pair of officers played by Beau Knapp ("Sand Castle," "Semper Fi") and Theo Rossi ("Sons of Anarchy"). Jefferson's son decides to film the traffic stop with his phone's camera and there's a tragic result.

Both officers are cleared of wrongdoing for the shooting and that proves to be too much for a Marine who's learned to follow the rules. Jefferson organizes his own trial to hold the cops responsible and leads what seems to be a live-streamed takeover of the local police precinct as he leads the mission.

None of this is subtle and it's not supposed to be. The Marine is Black and the cops are white. Did the police act exactly as they were trained to do or was there something more sinister going on? If they were following protocols, is there something wrong with the way they've been trained? Is a Marine who uses his training to stage this kind of protest betraying the values of the Corps?

All of the questions are loaded and Nate Parker, who previously made the controversial slavery film "The Birth of a Nation," intends to rile up the audience and then leave viewers to gauge their own reactions. We'll have to wait until the January release to find out where Lincoln Jefferson lands in the pantheon of movie Marines.

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