Black And Blue Review

Black And Blue
Rookie New Orleans PD recruit Alicia West (Naomie Harris) captures a triple shooting of criminals by her police colleagues on her body cam. She must get the incriminating footage back to the police precinct but she is pursued by both corrupt cops and the local gangsters who believe she committed the murder.

by Ian Freer |
Published on
Release Date:

25 Oct 2019

Original Title:

Black And Blue

You have to pity poor Naomie Harris. After strong turns in diverse supporting roles, be it in franchises like Pirates Of The Caribbean or James Bond or dramas like Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom and her Oscar-nominated role in Moonlight, she finally gets a lead role in Black And Blue and it’s generic as they come. Make no mistake, Harris is emotionally charged and physically commanding as a straight-arrow newbie cop who comes face to face with deep rooted corruption and institutionalised racism. But the film that surrounds her is a cliché cop-in-a-crisis movie, part Training Day, part Assault On Precinct... film that doesn’t do the film’s premise or star justice.

Black And Blue

It starts strong: African-American Alicia West (Harris) is out for a morning run through a peaceful New Orleans neighbourhood. She is pulled over by a pair of white cops who begin to harass her, then rough her up. Then one of the cops pulls out Alicia's ID and learns she is a fellow blue, a rookie in her third week on the New Orleans PD. With some pointed comments (“You know how it is"), they let her go.

There’s a good film buried in here somewhere – but what we are left with is a film that falls in between the gaps.

The scene powerfully sets up the idea that Alicia is caught between worlds — between black and white, male and female, regular folks and cops — but the film does very little to make that idea live. Instead Deon Taylor’s film treads a safer, less interesting urban thriller route as Alicia, on a night-shift patrol, catches on her body cam a triple murder committed by the cops. As the neighbourhood criminals, led by Darius (Mike Colter), zero in on her believing her to be behind the killing, and the police force gather to cover their tracks, Alicia, helped by neighborhood storeowner Mouse (Tyrese Gibson), has to stay alive to get the body-cam footage back to the precinct and upload it to the police version of the Cloud to expose the truth.

Lensed by legendary cinematographer Dante Spinotti (you wouldn’t necessarily know unless you stayed for the credits), the action is a passable mixture of shoot outs, punch ups and foot chases. There’s a good film buried in here somewhere: social and racial issues filtered through a tense, taut thriller. But what we are left with is a film that falls in between the gaps, one that wants to say something about life in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina but also is stupid enough for characters to fall off a high building, land on the roof of a car and carry on fighting. You’ve seen Black And Blue a million times before. And seen it done better.

Not even the considerable talents of the ever watchable Naomie Harris can elevate Black And Blue above the broad and generic. The result is sadly aggressively formulaic.
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