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Will Poulter in Detroit, photo courtesy Annapurna
Will Poulter in Detroit, photo courtesy Annapurna

Krauss: Law Gone Wrong

The gunshots draw law enforcement around the Algiers annex, including three Detroit police officers who’ve had a pretty stressful day of their own.

Krauss (Will Poulter) leads the trio, and he’s a racist monster—the one guy in the film who comes the closest to pure, unapologetically evil. And yet, if you listen closely early on, you get a sense why these riots tipped him over the edge.

Before the Algiers incident, we see Krauss and his cohorts cruise through the rubble-strewn streets of Detroit. Krauss shakes his head at the destruction, and he says that the police aren’t doing enough to “help these people.”

How do you help? In Krauss’s mind, you enforce the laws … using whatever means necessary. So when he sees a looter sprinting down the street, Krauss gets out of his car, gives chase, pulls a shotgun and shoots the man in the back. He was breaking the law, Krauss figured. It was the only way to stop him.

I’ve got a little Krauss in me. Not, hopefully, the racist, evil part, but I too get frustrated when I see the rule of law flaunted or abused. It drives me nuts when a guy blasts past me doing 110 on the Interstate, weaving in and out of traffic. I don’t feel a lot of grace in situations like those.

Krauss doesn’t, either. But that passion for order, mixed with the badge and his obvious racism, makes for a toxic stew here. He aims to force those in the Algiers to bend to the rule of law, his will, and ultimately to his whim. And ironically, in his desire to enforce the law (as he sees it) he breaks plenty of them himself.

Which is a lot like what we do, too, right? I’ve been guilty of violating a traffic rule or two myself. But, of course, I’m all too willing to give me the sort of grace I rarely show my fellow drivers.

Krauss is the movie’s villain. But the real tragedy in Detroit is this: He thinks he’s the hero, and you’ll never be able to convince him otherwise.



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