In 2002, Michael B. Jordan melted the hearts of pretty much anyone who watched David Simon's now-classic series "The Wire." As 16-year-old drug dealer Wallace, Jordan became the emotional center of the series' first season. His character -- shot by a fellow drug dealer at season's end when it became known he had cooperated with police -- resonated so much with fans that at the premiere party for the series' final season, Jordan was reported to receive the loudest cheers when Simon read the names of the dozens of cast members that had come and gone from the show.
Jordan’s promise was made clear with roles in two other acclaimed series, "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood," before it reached its pinnacle this past January at the Sundance Film Festival. Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station" premiered, offering us our first chance to see what Jordan could do with a lead role. There was quickly no doubt he'd made the most of it.
"Fruitvale" centers on the true story of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, the Bay Area resident who was tragically shot at the Fruitvale BART station in 2009 after an altercation that most definitely didn't call for his death. But unlike Wallace's tragic end in "The Wire," Oscar's fate was met by the police themselves in a shattering example of racist police brutality. With exceptional and powerful restraint, Jordan breaks our hearts all over again as he gives a voice to a man who no longer has one. And he also makes it clear his voice as an actor is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Michael's performance is analogous of a master gemcutter polishing a rare diamond, intensely focused and precise, resulting in an exquisite and sparkling jewel. Working with him was truly a gift.
- Octavia Spencer
Welcome to Critical Consensus, Indiewire’s recurring column in which two critics from our Criticwire Network discuss topics in current cinema with Indiewire critic Eric Kohn.
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