Written and directed by Aimee Long, “A Shot Through the Wall” considers the modern race and police dilemma in the United States from the perspective of a Chinese-American police officer in New York. When a rookie, Mike Tan (Kenny Leu), chases a teenager through a Brooklyn apartment building, Mike accidentally fires his gun and kills a black man.
After the shooting, Mike is haunted by his actions, although his immigrant parents, Chow and May (Tzi Ma and Fiona Fu), support him. At work, his superiors assure him that everything will blow over – until a video revealing Mike’s identity goes viral, leading to widespread demands for justice and the possibility of jail time, including jail time. Mike then seeks the help of a powerful lawyer who encourages him to show off his black girlfriend, Candace (Ciara Renée), to ward off any accusations of racism.
While it focuses on calls for police accountability and the media’s role in reducing complex problems to simple stories, Long’s schematic script heightens the theatrics at the cost of more challenging insights.
Nevertheless, the lively, eventful melodrama has an undeniably captivating appeal, and the film’s strongest moments come when Long sheds light on Mike’s family life with subtle details about the relationship between two generations of Chinese Americans — such as when May’s English is smugly corrected by her daughter.
Alienated and desperate at realizing the exploitative strategies he must implement to avoid conviction, Mike illegally purchases a weapon and betrays his loved ones before coming to his senses. But in the final act, Long pulls the rug from under us in a way that implausibly drives home the film’s perfunctory ideas about gun violence, police incompetence, and the victimization of communities of color.
A shot through the wall
Not judged. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. In theaters and for rent or sale on Amazon, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.