Documentaries aren’t the most popular genre of film with main stream audiences. Casual movie goers want to be entertained rather than educated when they sit down and turn on the television. I Got A Monster is perhaps the perfect bridge for the uninitiated between the world of scripted filmmaking and documentaries. With sharp editing and a compelling story to tell, the film unfolds with a gripping intensity that never releases until the final credits hit the screen.
Detective Sergeant Wayne Jenkins of Baltimore’s gun trace task force presents himself as a “super cop.” From the outside looking in he appeared to be an officer at the top of his game, with all of the investigative instincts and street knowledge necessary put a dent in Baltimore’s increasingly violent crime problem. But outside of public view, Jenkins uses the power and authority provided by the badge he wears for personal gain at any cost. By breaking the very laws he’s sworn to enforce, he manipulates the courts to twist the world of guns and drugs to benefit him and his team, and destroy the lives of others in the process.
True crime is a genre of entertainment that Americans can’t seem to get a enough of. From books to podcasts to television there’s no shortage of stories to tell, and there’s a large group ready to consume them all. This makes true crime documentaries the most accessible to the wide majority of audiences. Utilizing footage form the body-worn cameras of Wayne Jenkins and his unit, I Got A Monster takes viewers directly into the gritty world of street level crime and the gun trace task force’s tactics.
It’s a story of corruption and crime you’d expect to see in a work of fiction. That’s likely why it was adapted into the HBO docudrama We Own This City, starring Jon Bernthal. Acting as the antithesis to Wayne Jenkins is Ivan Bates, the attorney who would not rest until Jenkins and his badged gang of thugs were brought to justice. If not for Ivan Bates, there is no telling how long the gun trace task force’s reign and control over the streets of Baltimore may have lasted.
Also Read: 10 Most Disturbing Crime Documentaries
I come from a family of law enforcement. I support good police and truly believe they are tasked with a difficult, and often thankless, job that is a societal necessity; however, I Got A Monster demonstrates how power and authority can be corrupted and, when left unchecked, that corruption can spread. Spider-Man knows this better than most, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
I Got A Monster is a film as important as it is entertaining, tackling difficult subject matter and presenting it in a way that appeals to a wide range of audiences. It’s message is never anti-police. It’s anti-corruption and pro-accountability. A major achievement in filmmaking documenting one of the most significant cases of police corruption ever recorded. A monster of a film.