Depending how you feel about Will Smith’s moment of madness when he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, you might feel inclined to give his movie a miss. But don’t. Emancipation is a tough watch but one that sucks you in.
It’s set in the early 1860s, as the American Civil War rages and President Lincoln is about to abolish slavery.
Amid it all, Smith’s character, Peter, is desperately trying to outrun Ben Foster’s horseback-riding slave master.
Peter is based on a real person, about whom little is known beyond a shocking photograph that shows horrifying scars on his back.
He just wants to get back to his wife and children. When he hears that slavery is set to be abolished, he runs from his white oppressors.
Director Antoine Fuqua doesn’t spare viewers from the grisly realities of the era. As for Smith, he brings to life the man from the photograph. He’s a rock at Emancipation’s centre. You’ll want to see it through with him.
15. Out Friday on Apple TV+