Summary: Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.
Cast and Characters.
Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter. 16-year-old Starr is stuck between two worlds. The world of her neighborhood, Garden Heights and Williamson, her prep school. She understands what it means to code switch depending on the people she’s around. One night she attends a party with her best friend, and she meets up with Khalil, a boy she knew from her childhood. They reconnect and when the party turns sour, she and Khalil escape and have moments in the car. Unfortunately, she watches as Khalil is murdered before her very eyes by a cop. She is stricken by this and has to continue through her life with something so horrific in her memory, in her bones and she struggles with the pain that she knows what happened. However, she’s afraid to say anything because she’s worried what that might do to her family. Also, King of the King Lords pretty much threatens her about dry snitching and what not. But Starr must find her voice in order for Khalil to find justice and to find peace for herself. It’s a powerful story to see told by a friend and a witness. I was a little worried about Amandla at first, I think she’s a good actress but I haven’t seen her play a part like this but she pleasantly surprised me. She does make these weird faces lol, which throughout the movie I was like “lol girl stop” but I know she can’t help it because it’s just her face lol. I thought she did very well with all the emotional bits. Definitely a movie to make her mark as more than just a YA adaptation actress.
Supporting Characters.I mean, everyone on this list are people we see quite often in the movie but I had to give Amandla her due above and then hit everyone else after. Everyone does very well in the film.
Regina Hall as Lisa Carter.A friend of mine was curious to see how she would do playing a role like this. I understand her concern but I had a little more faith in Regina Hall and I thought for what the role asked of her, she did very well. She was firm when she needed to be and she has some of the best facial expressions, very funny. I also thought she had great chemistry with Russell Hornsby. I do think her role got a little downplayed in the movie compared to the book but from what she was given, I thought she did well and was memorable as the mom. Some of the best moments was the moment at the diner and at the end when they’re all at Carter’s groceries.
Russell Hornsby as Maverick Carter. Outside of Starr, he really shines. I think I’ve only seen him in Fences, but I loved him here. He’s not exactly what I thought Big Mav would look like but he really played him the way I would want him to be played. The movie starts out with him telling his kids how to conduct themselves when faced with police and you can tell that he might have just gotten out of prison and he’s trying to make sure his kids understand. He did this face where he could kind of snarl whenever he talked and I liked that because it’s something I would imagine a man whose been through what he’s been through would do. I loved the way he talked to his kids, he may come off a little hard but it’s clear he loves them. He’s always on their side. He was also really funny, especially the prom scene. Again, with the diner scene where everyone did such a great job, but he did really good here as well since it was directly happening to him.
KJ Apa as Chris. First things first, when he first showed up, that dark hair was not doing him any favors. I can’t remember if Chris had dark hair in the books or not but KJ Apa was way to pale that it was kind of shocking. It grew on me as the movie progressed. Anyways, I liked Chris a lot. I thought he was cute and sweet and I understood his confusion throughout the movie. It’s hard to be in an interracial relationship when things are going on because it’s hard to know who to trust with your feelings and whether or not they’ll understand. That’s where Chris stood with Starr after the event. He was in the dog house in the beginning because of what he did before the movie, but throughout the movie he was in a state of confusion because he didn’t know what was going on. I think Chris is a good kid, I do wish we got to see a little more of him and that he was included in more things mostly at the end, I think it would have been nice to have that but I also get why he wasn’t there. I like KJ Apa, he’s likable (though not as Archie Andrews lol) and I liked the chemistry he had with Amandla and his introduction is like the best because he’s so cute! KJ just has this All-American-Boy thing about him where he’s just so earnest, he plays that really well.
Algee Smith as Khalil Harris. Ahhh Kahlil. I think Algee Smith is so cute. I haven’t seen him in anything else (No I have not seen that New Edition movie though I might watch it now because of him), but he has this light about him. I don’t know if it’s because of who he was playing but as soon as he walked into the room and Starr looked at him, I was like “he’s my favorite” and he’s just so sweet and likable that it sucks that he was murdered. When he and Starr meet up, they catch up and what I love about him is that when the fight breaks out, he didn’t leave her, he made sure she was with him so he could make sure she got home safely. While they were in the car, they reminisced and he thought of what could be and he says this line that made me go “Dang, where’s mine!?” *sighs* He’s super likable and I wish Justice for Khalil. Algee Harris is great, he’s charismatic, and I hope to see more of him. I did fan cast as one of my characters from one of my books lol, I see big things!
Lamar Johnson as Seven Carter. Sadly, I don’t think we got to see as much of Seven as I would have liked. However, I really liked him. He’s the product of a night between Maverick and Iesha (King’s wife? Girlfriend?). He clearly spends a lot of time with the Carters as he goes to school with both Starr and Sekani. He is very protective of both of them and he loves the Carters so much that when Iesha and King came to the funeral, he didn’t want to be with them but stay with the Carters. I mean, it makes sense as King definitely doesn’t seem to like him, though we never really got to see an interaction between King and Seven. There is a story line that gets passed to him where in the book it happens to a character they removed from the movie (I talk more about this at the end of this review), which was fine with me. It allowed the moment to be way more personal for everyone involved and I think it flowed seamlessly with the events before and after. It just made more sense that way. I also will keep an eye out for Lamar Johnson though because whenever he was one screen, my eye did go to him.
Issa Rae as April Ofrah. What can I say about Issa Rae, hahaha that rhymes. But she doesn’t have a HUGE role but the role she plays is perfect for her. Issa Rae is likable no matter what she does. She plays this woman who stands up for justice and she encourages Starr to find her voice for Khalil. She’s great. Boom.
Sabrina Carpenter as Hailey.There are two of Starr’s best friends from Williamson but Hailey gets a little more screen time in that she is the person closest to Starr at Williamson who doesn’t understand. It’s hard when you’re trying to be two people and suddenly your worlds collide and people don’t get it. Hailey doesn’t get it. Sabrina Carpenter is really likable, I mean I still wanted to kind of hit her but her character isn’t supposed to be likable and I just felt like she was really ignorant.
Common as Uncle Carlos. So, I think this was perfect casting once I found out about it and I think Uncle Carlos is a good and interesting character. He’s a cop which makes him on both sides of the situation and puts him in an interesting situation. He’s there when Starr calls him and I’ll talk about him more. I think Common is fine in the role, mostly with what they gave him.
Anthony Mackie as King. I think Anthony Mackie is a fantastic actor and I’ve seen him play villain roles before. I was a little worried though because physically he doesn’t look like how I would picture King who was described as a big man and Mackie looks younger than Maverick especially with them seemingly growing up together and Big Mav being his right-hand man. We don’t see him a ton but when we do, he’s in the background mean mugging, or threatening people. Anthony Mackie is good in roles like this though so I think he’s great and he’s quite intimidating lol.
TJ Wright as Sekani Carter. I don’t have much to say about him but he’s really cute and they did a little something different with him at the end that I didn’t expect. It was actually a great moment and it really worked for what the message of the movie was. This kid was great. Kind of reminded me of the little boy fromBlackish, he really embodied the meaning of his name.
The Family. It’s very important that the Carter family feel like a real family and be strong. There is a lot of history with what happened with Maverick and even the stuff between him and Uncle Carlos. I loved that the movie started out with Maverick talking with a young Seven and Starr about how to conduct themselves in case they’re pulled over by the police. It’s a very important conversation that all black families should have and it set the tone from the beginning. It set the tone of the movie and the tone of the family. Throughout the movie, we see a beautiful love with Lisa and Maverick. A cute sibling relationship between Seven, Starr and Sekani and a great relationship with the parents and their kids. It’s important to note that Lisa is not Seven’s mother but she treated him like her own son. I loved that the movie made sure we saw they were a family.
Relevant Story. No matter what you think of the movie overall, the story is relevant to what is going on today. Khalil was unarmed. Yes, he reached into the car and grabbed his hairbrush but why does no one ever shoot to disarm or shoot a taser? Why is it always shoot to kill? Sure, you’re in fear of your life but both of them were harmless, they didn’t even look like they were trouble other than the fact they’re black. We see Starr struggle throughout the movie with speaking up, we even learned that what happened with her other best friend as a kid, and how she didn’t speak up then. A lot of people go through that, no knowing whether or not they should “snitch” or speak up when they witness something because they’re afraid. Starr deals with grief and then she sees what happens with her family and Khalil’s family and she has to make the choices whether or not to live for Khalil.
Khalil’s Death. Not a spoiler since you know it from the trailer and what not, but it doesn’t lessen the blow when it happens. Starr and Khalil are having a great moment in the car, they talk about THUG LIFE, music and childhood and it’s so cute. Algee and Amandla have great chemistry and it’s so cute to think of the future. Anyway, they drive off and get pulled over and Starr thinks of what she learned as a kid. Khalil is a bit more frustrated because he’s not sure what he did. Watching the scene unfold knowing what it leads up to is very tense and then when he gets shot, it felt like I got shot three times because at this point, you like Khalil. We don’t get to know him that much since it’s basically 30 minutes into the movie but he’s likable and you like him. Starr is hysterical and the cop puts her in handcuffs and she’s trying to comfort him… it’s just so much. First scene of the tears and I still can’t forget it. I couldn’t forget it in the book either.
All the Feels. I think I cried like five times in the movie. I don’t expect everyone to cry while watching it but if you don’t feel anything, or don’t care about anything you see then, one, you’re made of stone and two why are you even watching this movie? lol being that this kind of thing happens in real life, it’s hard to not picture the people you know and love in these positions. When all of the death was happening a couple of years ago, it seemed like it happened every day, I had a moment where I just hugged my youngest brother because he’s tall, he’s black and I couldn’t bear the idea of losing him like that. So, I get it. It doesn’t happen constantly, there’s a lot of laughs in the movie too, but it’s very realistic.
Would you Shoot? Starr and Uncle Carlos have a moment in his kitchen after the family gets shot at in their house. She’s talking to him about it and he tells her what it’s like to be a cop on the force and it’s intense. I totally get it. It was a great scene and you can tell that he really wanted her to understand just what all of that meant, but at the same time, you can tell from her that she expected something different from her uncle being a black man on the police force. What he was saying is probably true for most cops, I don’t know, I’m not a cop, but he’s right, it is the world we live in and it sucks. Great moment from both Amandla and Common.
Get out the car! There’s an entire scene that happens from this diner all the way to the Carter’s house. Big Mav and King have a moment and the police show up and well you can guess what happened. So, everyone has high emotions because of what happened and Starr says something that triggers Maverick and he makes all of the kids stand out on the lawn and recite a part from the Black Panther’s Seven Point program. He then tells them what their names mean and it was such a powerful scene. It quickly became a favorite in the movie.
Starr and Hailey. There’s a scene particularly towards the end where Starr and Hailey get into it. I won’t spoil it but Hailey basically makes a comment about the hairbrush and Starr snatches the one that’s in Hailey’s book bag pocket and makes a point. It was a great scene. In the book they have a physical fight but I actually think I liked this better just because it makes an important point. Amandla did great in that scene.
Uncle Carlos. He’s not a bad character nor is Common a bad actor (he’s inconsistent but he’s fine), I just think they didn’t end his character on a good note. He’s supposed to represent the other half. He’s a cop which could make it hard for Starr to completely want to give up on all cops because of her uncle. They had a great relationship in the book and I think in the movie it was kind of implied that he was a large part of her life while Maverick was in jail, but I don’t think they played it up enough. I mean he was really important and he should have been way more in the movie. While I liked the conversation, they in his kitchen, it showed what cops might go through when out in the field, I don’t think they ever gave him the chance to really show that he was on Starr’s side. I think that was an issue because he needed to be and should have been. I don’t want to compare to the book too much but in the book, he gets into a fight and put on paid leave… that should have happened because it shows both Starr and the audience that he was still on her side. Common was perfect casting for him, but they really missed the mark on what to do with his character. Plus, he and Maverick have beef… it would be well founded but they don’t give it time to marinate before it’s finished. Meh.
Seven and King. In the movie we learn that Seven is the product of Iesha and Maverick having a night together. Something happens towards the end of the movie with Seven and it kind of came out of nowhere. Outside of King making a comment to Kenya and Starr about Seven’s name (though you can’t really talk King…) they never have a moment to really show that King doesn’t like Seven or anything of that nature. I think there should have been a moment or a few where King may look at him funny, or they have an argument, or something that would have made the part at the end make sense and not just some extra drama.
Overall, I loved The Hate U Give.For one, I think it’s a great adaptation of a fantastic book and I was thrilled that it for the most part kept the essence of the book. As a film, I think it was handled really well. All of the characters serve their purpose and I think audiences can identify with Starr with what she went through. I can’t imagine everyone going through what she went through but Amandla Stenberg does a great job playing the part. There are times where her facial expressions look really funny but she manages to push through the funny faces and really deliver a performance I think is her best. She had me by the heart strings. I loved the family dynamic and that they felt like a real family and how they reacted to each other like a family would. The story is extremely relevant in the situation and I think it’ll hit close to him for a lot of people. There are a lot of GREAT scenes as well that I think are extremely memorable. On the flip side, I think Uncle Carlos received the short end of the deal in that his character should have been used more and been more of a lifeline for Starr in that he was a cop but someone she looked up too. I also think the relationship between Seven and King should have been used more because it comes to a head at the end and it’s random. BUT I loved the movie and I think it’s a must see!
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars.
P.S. There’s a couple of spoilers down here.
Khalil’s hairbrush: In the book when Starr and Khalil get pulled over, he is told to get out of the car. In the book, he opens the door to check on Starr and then gets shot, he doesn’t even get the chance to ask Starr if she’s okay, or at least to finish the question. In the movie, I was worried because the trailers showed that he actually reached for his hairbrush when it was actually in the side of his door that the officer thought was a hairbrush. Khalil never reached into the car, he never pulled anything out the car. I was worried that would change the situation and the narrative. Either way, Khalil should not have been killed but I think with it obviously being a hairbrush, it actually takes away the element of confusion because the cop clearly saw the brush. I don’t know, it’s kind of…hard but either way I wanted to mention it.
DeVante:So, I mentioned in the book review that I thought the DeVante storyline I could take or leave. I liked it but it could have been cut out and I wouldn’t have missed it. I knew they would probably cut it out of the movie and they did. I totally get why too. All the stuff that happened to him was outlier and was there so Maverick could have a way to save someone since he couldn’t save Khalil but I think he had enough to do with his family. In the book, DeVante gets beat up by Kenya and Seven (who is driving) takes Starr and Chris with him to go and get him. In the movie, Chris is driving and it’s Seven who gets beat up. I like that because it keeps the story personal. Sure, Chris doesn’t have the chance to get close to DeVante like in the book, but for the movie sake he didn’t need to. I liked that it was Seven because it was more personal for Starr and for Iesha who uses that moment to save her children. That’s way more powerful I think than her trying to save DeVante. That’s just me though.