Film Review: 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets

On Friday 23 November 2012 Michael Dunn shot 10 bullets into a car parked next to his at a gas station in Florida. He claimed it was in self-defence as he feared for his life and that one of the four occupants, Jordan Davies, was threatening him and had a gun. Davies died from his injuries and Dunn was charged with several counts including first degree murder. No gun or weapon was ever found. In the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing the case attracted nationwide press coverage and commentary.

In Marc Silver’s documentary 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets he focusses on the trial, speaking to the relatives and friends of Jordan Davies. The claims made by Dunn regarding Davies having a weapon were not corroborated but the case hinged on the ‘Stand You Ground’ self-defence laws in the US. The law gave Dunn the right to use deadly force and not retreat if he perceived himself or others to be facing a reasonable threat.

Trial documentaries often struggle with the issue of holding the audiences’ interest for a sustained period of time. Silver deftly side-steps this by cleverly cutting to interviews and news and radio broadcasts to compliment the points under consideration in court. This balance is so superbly done that the likely outcome continually oscillates as the trial progresses. 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets is not only a well-made documentary, it plays out like a gripping courtroom thriller.

3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets is out in cinemas on Friday.

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