Black and Blue – 2019

Director Deon Taylor
Screenplay Peter A. Dowling
Starring Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson, Frank Grillo, Mike Colter, Reid Scott

Black and Blue features English actress Naomie Harris in a starring role as New Orleans police officer Alicia West. She is a rookie, coming back to her hometown after serving for a decade in the U.S. Army. Inside the first 10 minutes, it is made clear to Alicia that she doesn’t fit as part of the neighborhood, and she’s still not going to fit with the blue when in civilian clothes.

She covers for double duty for her partner Jennings (Scott) and towards the end of her shift, she witnesses a crime perpetrated by fellow officers. Having been shot by one of the cops because she’d recorded it on her body camera, she evades them and starts a trek to get the camera back as proof. She comes across an old acquaintance (Gibson) who is running a grocery store. She convinces him to help her out.

The story is standard good cop / bad cop with the spectre of race thrown in for good measure. Harris plays someone who is good for the sake of being good. She doesn’t see things in terms of black, white or blue. She sees right and wrong. The social fabric of the New Orleans parish that she works is such that she has no chance of getting help. No one side trusts the other.

Gibson is as good as I have ever witnessed as a merchant who has to overcome his own cynicism and see things the way West sees them. He doesn’t try to use humor and he isn’t especially physical. He’s actually the best thing about the film. He withstands abuse with wisdom enough to curb his pride. My favorite scene with Gibson is his sleight of hand involving evidence. Nothing especially cool about him. It’s just a good move.

Harris is good in a role that really doesn’t demand much. She’s supposed to be a true believer shaken to her core. Nothing that happens in the film actually changes her, it only gives her more resolve to carry on through to the end.

As her partner, Reid Scott is exactly who we think he is given his the role. Everyone is dirty, but some less than others.

Grillo gives a familiarity to the role of the baddest cop. He doesn’t add any amount of flourish like, say, Gary Oldman, circa Leon: The Professional. A movie like this doesn’t really require anything more.

Mike Colter is somewhat miscast as the big time drug dealer. In his capacity, one would expect him to have a little more smarts than his character is allowed. The biggest travesty of the film is that they cut his character short.

Overall, the film is competent, nothing more. There are no real scenes that give one the sense of being in New Orleans, other than destitution. If you like the actors, give it a try.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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