Mutiny (1999) starring Michael Jai White, Duane Martin, David Ramsey, Matthew Glave, David Barry Gray, Lark Voorhies, James Sikking directed by Kevin Hooks Movie Review

Mutiny (1999)   3/53/53/53/53/5

David Ramsey, Duane Martin and Michael Jai White in Mutiny (1999)

An Accident Waiting to Happen

"Mutiny" starts with an aging coloured man accompanied by two others in some sort of courtroom addressing a Senator. We don't learn much about what is going on other than the three men want to be exonerated and one of them obviously have suffered facial scarring from something. This then jumps back 55 years as we have a group of coloured recruits being put through boot camp, a typical series of scenes which also features some sadly typical scenes of racial abuse from mocking to being denied the same chances as white seamen. All of which in fairness is just the lead in to the main story but is disappointing for being too stereotypical and lacking real depth.

Anyway after the stereotypical intro to the era "Mutiny" quickly takes us to the main storyline as we see the coloured soldiers who passed boot camp being sent to Port Chicago, California where they are thrown into the dangerous world of ammunition loading. It highlights the dangers as we see ammo dropped and also highlights the continuing prejudice from the men no being issued with correct equipment to white officers being full of racism and prejudice. What follows on from this is a major incident as 100s of men, mainly coloured die in an explosion and when those forced to return to ammo loading refuse are court martialed and dishonourably discharged for mutiny.

Now I had never heard of the true story to "Mutiny" and to be honest don't know how much poetic licence has been taken when it comes to the events and characters but the story is one which deserves to be told. Unfortunately an 89 minute TV movie is not the way to do it justice as this ends up weak, forced and cliche. It simply fails to create both the right atmosphere and characters in preference of trying to keep it simple, moving and entertaining with various distractions, from one seaman having a bad habit of conning people to issues between white officers over the treatment of coloured soldiers.

The knock on effect of this is that the cast end up facing a hard battle to bring their characters to life as none have any real depth. The upshot of this is that Michael Jai White, Duane Martin and David Ramsey who play the central characters sadly end up anonymous.

What this all boils down to is that the story behind "Mutiny" is one which deserves to be told but it needs to be told in a much better way than this movie achieves which only just manages to bring it to the public's attention.