Marc Silver's 3 1/2 Minutes is a in-depth look at the murder case of Jordan Davis, an African American teenager who was shot and killed in a gas station parking lot after an altercation with a middle-aged white man. Given this seemingly growing epidemic of racially fueled murders sweeping the country, this is a documentary that should be praised for its ability to remain neutral, exploring both sides of the story, spending time with both the victim and the defendant. Being a very intricate dissection of the trial itself, 8 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets greatest attribute is its ability to show the real dangers of having the "stand your ground" law in Florida, exposing how it further muddles and already complex legal system. Sparing little detail, the film uses the tragic tale of Jordan Davis to reveal the systematic problem with a law that's so vague, where the "Appearance of Danger" is enough to kill. This combined with racial profiling becomes an incredibly dangerous cocktail, with the film exposing how easily lives can be tragically lost in the process. Obviously this film can be hard to watch at times, as the filmmakers never shy away from the pain and anguish of the victim's parents, giving the viewer a front row seat during the trial and showing the effect this long process can have on those connected to it. Watching this film one begins to feel like a juror, due to the intricate detail, as the film effectively exposes the flaws in a law that relies too much on an individual's judgement as to when they are in true danger. The fact of the matter is the law demands only "reasonable belief of perceived threat" making trials of this nature incredibly muddled and hard to dissect. By the end of the film I was pretty convinced the jury got the trial right in the end, as the film paints a convincing, unbiased portrait that this man's distorted racial perceptions drove him to murder, fearing someone he didn't have to fear, taking another life for no reason, regardless of the fact that he viewed it as self defense. Above all else, Marc Silver's 3 1/2 Minutes, 8 Bullets captures the vast complexities of our legal system and the dangerous nature of judging someone based off the color of their skin.
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