The Movie Waffler New to Prime Video - THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN | The Movie Waffler


The true story of the murder of Kenneth Chamberlain.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: David Midell

Starring: Frankie Faison, Enrico Natale, Anika Noni Rose, Steve O'Connell, Ben Marten, LaRoyce Hawkins

The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain poster

Even during a nationwide pandemic, throughout 2021 the U.S. police force managed to shoot 608 people dead. Or did they? Evidence suggests that, actually, over half of police killings in the USA go unreported and that Black Americans are the social group who would be most likely to be the recipient of fatal police violence. Black America makes up 13% of the U.S. population, but accounted for 27% of those fatally shot and killed by police in 2021. And sometimes the cops don’t just shoot these people to death, now and again they terrorise and bully their prey until said victim keels over from exhaustion, before opening fire on them anyway.

Take the fury inducing death of Kenneth Chamberlain, a 68-year-old African-American ex-marine who suffered from ill health. Living alone in public housing, Chamberlain’s medical necklace was accidentally triggered - it sent an alert to a customer service operator, who in turn called the Department of Public Safety. Three cops turned up, and Chamberlain explained that the alert was a mishap, and that he was alright and did not need assistance. For whatever reason (institutional racism, the natural propensity for police to instil fear, or simple cruel fun?), the police did not leave and instead threatened Chamberlain, who cowered inside on the phone to the customer service operator, protesting that the visitors were trying to kill him. The door was knocked down, tasers were employed and a shotgun was used to fire bean bags. Chamberlain was eventually shot by a handgun to the lungs. Hours later, he died during emergency treatment.

The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain review

Sounds mad, doesn’t it? But maybe these three (THREE!) men who responded to a routine call where a pensioner tripped a medical alert were the rare sort of good and decent policemen who deign to protect old men, firing bean bags as part of some merry prank, tasering them to cheer them up. Perhaps that smoking gun had a life of its own and went off in someone’s hand. Furthermore, why would a vulnerable black man alone in an apartment be so reluctant to allow three uniformed thugs - one of whom called him a ‘n****r’ - into his house without any witnesses? What’s he got to hide? Look, how were the cops not to know that, perhaps, sat alone in the early hours of the morning, Chamberlain was enacting a secret, solo crime (which the liberal establishment has since covered up to serve its cultural Marxist agenda)? After all, All Lives Matter, yeah??

The difficulty with reviewing The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain is the lack of objectivity such a film entails, and the molten fury the events depicted invoke; the sick sensation of helplessness stirred up as the plot inevitably unfolds with a frustrating over-familiarity. As the three little pigs huff and puff at Chamberlain’s door and the film effects a cumulative dynamic of menace, this slow burn of civic brutality, you clench your fist in anger, look away in shame. It’s only a movie, it’s only a movie, etc. And within the medium of cinema, The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain may configure as part of the home invasion genre; this sense of an implacable threat rupturing the homestead, a sanctuary which should be safe for everyone.

The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain review

The supernumerary terror is dual, however. Firstly, the police are the very people you would hope to rely on if you were being assaulted by aggressive ne'er-do-wells, and secondly, unlike the faux verisimilitude which The Strangers or Them proclaim, the portrayed proceedings in The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain actually did happen: Chamberlain’s medical device recorded the entire sordid incident.

The events in themselves - of which easily accessible evidence provides a clear consensus - are so horrifically compelling that all writer/director David Midell needs to do is soberly represent the details and eyewitness accounts shared in the eventual court case. His direction is calm and precise, and there is a likewise lack of hyperbole in Frankie Faison’s central performance (an unnecessary note is the emotive score, the proposed manipulation of which is an unwarranted patina to the raw action on display). The dialogue from the state sanctioned murderers might be considered a bit on the nose - ‘[let’s] show him who’s boss’ one of the little cowards boasts - if it wasn’t a matter of public record. Likewise, the representation of the cops may seem a bit rote and one dimensional, but, again, only if you could ever imagine these people being more than the single minded, thick oppressors which current events prove them to be over and over again.

The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain review

Even though there was no discernible crime committed by the victim in 2012, a Grand Jury ruled that the murderers of Kenneth Chamberlain acted fairly, and that ‘there was no reasonable cause’ for indictment, and it was basically not an issue that an officer referred to the defenceless Chamberlain as ‘a n****r’. 10 years later, however, an appellate court restored claims of non-lethal excessive force and unlawful entry in the killing of Chamberlain. News stories such as Chamberlain are hot property in the moment, but justice is served slowly if at all, and the news media’s memory is short. The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain is an important testament to the numerous victims of police brutality and a rigged, corrupt system.

The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain is on Prime Video UK now.

2022 movie reviews