Emancipation Review: Will Smith’s Brutal Drama Brought Down by Poor Choices

Over a decade ago, Will Smith famously turned down the title role in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, stating that “I wanted to make that movie so badly, but I felt the only way was, it had to be a love story, not a vengeance story.” With Antoine Fuqua’s Emancipation, Smith gets a bit closer to this vision, in this story based on the life of the escaped slave Gordon, also known as “Whipped Peter.” Smith plays Peter, a slave who is separated from his wife Dodienne (Charmaine Bingwa) and children and forced to work on the railroad.

When Peter hears that Abraham Lincoln has freed the slaves, and that Lincoln’s army is nearby in Baton Rouge, Peter and a handful of other slaves attempt to escape, running through the Louisiana swamp as they try to make their way to freedom.

Making this journey even more difficult is

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