Review: Black and Blue

Deon Taylor’s (The Intruder, Traffik) newest film Black and Blue is the latest Good Cop vs. Bad Cop(s) movie. It’s a typical cop-on-the-run movie that follows dozens of familiar tropes.

Rookie officer, Alicia West (Naomie Harris), has returned home to New Orleans. While out with another officer, West witnesses NARC officer Malone (Frank Grillo) kill someone and the entire interaction is captured on her body cam. Uh-oh!

A wounded West is on the run form the dirty cops as she tries to make her way back to the precinct to upload the body cam footage. The only person in the community willing to help her is Mouse (Tyrese Gibson).

Meanwhile, Malone has put word on the streets that West killed the nephew of Darius (Mike Colter), a notorious drug dealer. Darius puts a bounty on West, making it much harder for her to make it back to the precinct.

Over the years there have been different versions of this movie – 16 blocks, SWAT, Street Kings and many others. Black and Blue attempts to do something different by having the body cam play a big role and adding a few sloppy speeches that declare we should treat everybody the same. Sadly, most of what the film tries to say falls flat.

Writer Peter Dowling’s social justice themes are well-intentioned but steer closer to sci-fi fantasy than reality. With all the high profile police corruption/misconduct in the news, the way West and other characters handle the body cam footage is so far from what happens, it’s almost laughable. The way the police respond to the allegations is unintentionally funny. Ten years ago, this story works. It’s such a glaring misstep because people know how these things work.  In 2019…Dowling is asking audiences to completely turn their brains off so they can enjoy the climax of this story.  Maybe Dowling is hoping audiences haven’t watched the news since 2014.

There’s also a shallow attempt to talk about communities, like the one depicted in this story, and their interactions with police. The film shows intense interactions between the community members and police and never gets into how it got to this point. Without any context, the communities disrespect for law enforcement looks mean spirited.

What’s even more hilarious is the lack of New Orleans accents. Why???? We’re lead to believe all of the main characters are from the city and the city of New Orleans is a big part of the story. Yet, Mike Colter, Nafessa Williams, Tyrese Gibson, and Frank Grillo don’t even attempt an accent. Not one time.

Unintentional comedy and accents aside, there are some good action scenes. West journey to the station (not sure how far) has some tension filled moments. It’s not without it’s entertaining moments and comedy. There’s even a fun shootout out in the third act.

Grillo is great at being Grillo and as a dirty cop. He doesn’t get enough screen time to be nasty and unlikable, but he’s really good when he’s onscreen. There’s a scene when Malone is fed up with how inept his fellow crooked cops are. He’s so disgusted they aren’t good at being crooked. He looks at them like a disappointed dad. The film could’ve used more scenes like that.

Harris is a star and has the potential to be a legit action star. She’s really good and believable in all the action scenes. Sadly, her performance is trapped in this shallow police story that’s decorated in ridiculous tropes and half baked ideas. Harris deserves a better action film to show audiences what she can do.

Black and Blue is a run-of-the-mill cop movie that tries to say something socially relevant about police interactions. Unfortunately, the film isn’t bold enough to be honest about the way these interactions play out, so we’re left with a movie that’s flat, lifeless, and a decade too late.

Grade: C