Hold Your Fire- Chicago Critics Fest Review

May 20th, 2022




AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)

Having the ability to see a situation from all sides is a luxury that humans do not have. We don’t know the entire reason why a person would rob a bank. We don’t know why a police officer would courageously try to save the lives of people in harm’s way. Director Stefan Forbes allows viewers that luxury in Hold Your Fire. It’s about a tragic event from 1972, but like many other great documentaries, what happened back then relates to today more than before, and we realize that the problems of yesterday are not better today. The story involves four men who decided to rob a sporting goods store to acquire more guns for their own protection. It led to a 47-hour standoff with New York city police and hostages held inside. This was a groundbreaking moment of hostage negotiating, a tragic event that left one police officer dead, and a history of trauma for everyone involved. It all amounts to Hold Your Fire being a powerful documentary, truly engaging, and telling a story that is undeniably thrilling. This is a documentary with the hard hitting details, digging into how we police, how our criminal justice system has failed at forgiveness, and a world that revolves around macho tough culture. Hold Your Fire is an answer, a groundbreaking documentary with a true example of showing every side. This allows the audience to walk in the shoes of everyone involved in that fateful moment in Brooklyn, New York.

The man that decided to hold up the sporting goods store was a man named Shu’aib Raheem. What director Stefan Forbes does such an excellent job of is establishing what these men did was wrong- a crime that rightfully resulted in serving time- but there’s not an easy solution to this. Whether people like to believe it or not, there are complexities involved in an event of this magnitude, a hard and painful decision made by a man that was at the end of his rope. Raheem was a member of the Nation of Islam, but when he decided to become a Shiite muslim, there were a number of incidents where ex-members were being attacked. It was a threat to his life, a genuine fear, but what he did was make a terrible choice. He served his time but in many ways, any understanding of his circumstances tossed aside, proving that forgiveness is often a luxury never provided for Black men who make ignorant choices in their early 20’s. Hold Your Fire all but confirms that concepts of understanding and forgiveness are never options in our systems of justice.

The major reason why Hold Your Fire is such an excellent documentary is the in-depth work by director Stefan Forbes. This is the perfect mixture of journalism and true crime entertainment. Forbes provides talking-head interviews with multiple people impacted by this moment, including the clerk held at gunpoint, retired police officers that survived the heavy gunfight, the prisoners in their cells, and hostages that were forever traumatized by the moment. He balances the in-depth and personal accounts with a wealth of video footage of news reports on the scene. As far as documentaries go, Forbes has done more than his due-diligence, blending the profession of journalist and documentary filmmaker, including the hard hitting facts, along with the entertaining beats that make this type of documentary a must-see.

With Hold Your Fire there is more than just the full telling of the stand-off, or a true-crime documentary that capitalizes on audiences that crave for true-crime docs of this nature. Forbes and his team of producers have a purpose and look to introduce the world to the teachings of Harvey Schlossberg. He was an influencer in techniques of de-escalation. Still a professor at St. John’s University that created a practice for police to work without violence. His teachings and the very practices he preaches deserve to be used by police across the United States and sadly those ways go by the wayside too much for today’s standards.

Last weekend we had three mass shootings in a matter of days. We continue to live in a world that believes anything can be solved by pulling the trigger. I’m not saying it’s the answer, but Hold Your Fire at least makes the argument for less violence, and practices from police officers that removes the macho bullshit. It starts with the fateful events in January of 1972 but the impact of that night, from Harvey Schlossberg, to the recovery of Shu’aib Raheem, it has all become a deeper meaning, and a greater purpose. Hold Your Fire is a special documentary that Stefan Forbes has made. There’s still a way to change for the better and the answers have been there since 1972. It’s time to put it all into action. Hold Your Fire and talk it out.



Written by: Leo Brady

Recommended Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search