LAAPFF 2021: A Shot Through the Wall Review

A Shot Through the Wall

First, one must realize that films are essentially gateways into differing perspectives and insights. These include viewpoints that may be difficult to watch. In today’s political climate, a film that sympathizes with a cop that shoots an innocent black man is hardly a film that’s going to get people in theater seats. Yet, Aimee Long’s A Shot Through the Wall is much deeper than this one-dimensional concept. The film sheds even more light on a broken system willing to throw non-white cops to the wolves to conceal the systemic white racism. 

A Shot Through the Wall follows Mike Tan (Kenny Leu), a beat cop who comes across a group of teens skipping school. When one of them runs away, Mike and his partner Ryan (Derek Goh) chase him into a building. While they search for the kid in an apartment building, he fumbles while drawing his gun, and it goes off. Unfortunately for Mike, the bullet that went through the wall killed a young black man.

As you might expect, the optics of a cop killing an innocent black kid isn’t very good for everyone. However, to highlight the systemic racism in the police force, Long’s story stacks so much in Mike’s favor. So, elements like Mike not knowing who was on the other side of the wall—let alone target that person plays a key role in the film. Not to mention, Mike’s fianceé is African-American and is the police chief’s daughter. Yet, none of these positives mean jack here. Between the (understandable) public outcry for justice to the media manipulation, Mike is caught between a rock and a hard place. 


A Shot Through the Wall, unfortunately, doesn’t give us a unique cultural perspective that would offset the delicate situation going on within our society right now.


This is where A Shot Through the Wall gets fascinating. The whole movie revolves entirely around Mike and his point of view. While we know little about the shooting victim, this film isn’t about him. Unfortunately, there are so many other films about victims of police violence out there. As I said before, this movie revolves around the cop, not the victim. 

Although it’s nice to see a diverse cast onscreen, A Shot Through the Wall doesn’t seem to provide a unique voice to the themes within the movie. It feels like a missed opportunity, especially when racism against the Asian and Pacific Islander community is at an all-time high due to COVID.

As a whole, it’s a miracle that A Shot Through the Wall got made in the first place. Yet, it’s also a miracle that the film made Mike into a sympathetic character. It’s something you can attribute to Leu’s fine performance and Long’s soft filmmaking touch. Regardless, just liking someone that we would normally dislike isn’t enough. A Shot Through the Wall, unfortunately, doesn’t give us a unique cultural perspective that would offset the delicate situation going on within our society right now.

Rating: 3/5 atoms

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1714 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.

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