Movie Review: Time, The Kalief Browder Story

by Marcus Johnson


Jay Z and The Weinstein Company came together in 2017 to tell the gut-wrenching story of Kalief Browder in “Time.” This Netflix documentary is a six-part miniseries detailing the life, wrongful incarceration, and death of Browder.

The miniseries is not for the faint of heart, as it does not shy away from showing the graphic violence Browder had to endure. While in prison, he was forced to fight large quantities of inmates while at the same time enduring numerous instances of torture by the guards.

What makes his imprisonment infuriating to many is that he was arrested and thrown in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. While walking home from a party one night, Browder and a friend were stopped by police.

According to the officers, a victim identified Browder and his friend as perpetrators from a robbery two weeks prior. The documentary explains in detail the unreliability of the witness.

It also explains the lack of competence on behalf of the judicial system. Browder was forced to postpone his hearing multiple times by no fault of his own.

He was only released when the prosecutors were forced to admit that their witness had gone to Mexico and was no longer in contact with them.

This brief synopsis offers very little due diligence as far as the compelling story that the documentary offers. The filmmakers give the audience not only a commentary on our justice system through the eyes of a tortured soul, but also gives us a story that needed to be told to anyone that has the ability to listen.

It is easy to see on the surface: child goes to prison, tortured into manhood, and then crumbles into mental instability.

But what the filmmakers give us insight on is the fact that Browder had the weight of the world on his shoulders before he took his first breath, and things only got heavier the stronger he grew.

He was born to a crack addicted mother, forced into adoption, abandoned by the only father he knew, and witnessed his older brother face his own unjust run in with law. He also had an adoptive mother who struggled in the her final years with a bad heart. He found solace in street life, and the list continues.

Browder’s story is a remarkable one that cannot be described in 500 words. However, this documentary does its damndest to relay his life in as honest and accurate a manner as possible.

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