Review: Black and Blue

A new director to me, Deon Taylor (Traffik, Supremacy) definitely has something to say with this film. It’s clear even from the trailers that this fictional film is pitting cops against the inner-city, African American community. New Orleans is the setting, and less than a decade ago it was ranked America’s “most corrupt” police department. Since then, The Big Easy has made strides that have taken them into a different spotlight: a department worth admiring. Their recent efforts to help the homeless population transition into the workplace, support the LGBTQ community, and even introducing an inside-the-department program known as EPIC which builds in accountability among officers have all been working to change the stigma surrounding its police force. Black and Blue brings it all back to remind our nation in a time of turmoil where this city has risen from in an effort to showcase their remarkable transformation.
Naomie Harris (28 Days Later, Moonlight) plays rookie cop Alicia West returning to her hometown after leaving right out of high school to join the Army. But the people she remembers have changed and the town is not only riddled with violence and crime, but police brutality is running rampant as cops even refuse to answer calls in certain parts of the city anymore. Officer West finds herself not only surrounded by cops who have adopted the us versus them mentality but are also corrupt in their dealings with local gangs. After recording an execution by corrupt cops with her vest camera, Alicia is forced to go on the run, hunted by her colleagues, in an attempt to return the evidence to her superiors.
This is pretty much your run-of-the-mill police action movie, but what I really like is the writing behind Harris’ character. West stays true to her beliefs the entire film, never faltering even in her darkest hour. She believes that all people have worth, even those deemed unworthy. The neighborhoods who have distanced themselves from the law and had it’s back turned against them are relied upon in her time of need, and as asinine a choice as it seems, it shows a faith in humanity that is somewhat lacking lately both in Hollywood and in real life. Harris also does a really nice job acting in this film and is very convincing in her military training, going toe-to-toe with gang members and having to care for her wounds while out-thinking more experienced officers. In addition to Harris, bad boy Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2019’s remake of Point Blank) and Tyrese Gibson (Fast & Furious franchise) both have notable roles in the film as a corrupt narc and a…trustworthy dude, respectively. Gibson is interesting because he cowers for most of the film, prejudiced by cops and just trying to live a normal life amidst gang violence. He’s just pulled into the story without adding much to it, even at the film’s conclusion his role is pretty basic. Also Mike Colter (Luke Cage) plays the gang leader Darius, who’s son is the one executed in the beginning of the film.
This one is mostly forgettable aside from what it has to say about the stories of police violence and prejudice in today’s America. The writing for the main character was pretty good but beyond that a lot of the film just fell into predictability. I appreciate the director taking a shot at drawing our attention to those in blue who are fighting to keep us safe while also following the letter of the law. Surrounded by local, national, and global news that is 90% negativity day in and out, it’s important to remember that there are good people out there who care about others and want what’s best for everyone. Cheers!

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