Black and Blue (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Deon Taylor, US, 2019, 108 mins

Cast:  Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson,

Review by Carol Allen

The title of the film refers to both the main character and its theme.  Black and Blue is an action thriller set in the New Orleans ghetto about a rookie cop Alicia (Naomie Harris), who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body camera.  

After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with store owner “Mouse” (Tyrese Gibson), the one person from her community who is willing to help her, as she tries to escape both the criminals out for revenge and the police, who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage.

Harris gives a terrific performance as the former military new recruit to the force, who has to question her loyalties to her new employers and re-examine her relationship with the world she comes from.  Harris not only proves she can be an all action heroine, who can kick arse with the best of them but also brings a depth and complexity to the character. In the rare occasions when she is off screen, the action seems a bit deja vue – the sort of thing we’ve seen in other ghetto action movies.   But when she is on screen she makes it all totally gripping.

Director Deon Taylor claims this all action film has a serious intent in terms of showing the oppression black citizens in America are subject to by the police.  He makes his point in one particularly effective sequence, when Mouse is roughly questioned by the cops and we are aware that he is in a total victim situation. If he protests, he will be either beaten up or arrested on a trumped up charge or both.

In the context of Taylor’s efforts to sugar his message inside a populist, all action movie format, we could have done with a quiet moment or two to give us more background on the two main characters. There is one scene between them where we have a pause from the action, which seems to indicate this is about to happen but it never develops.  Perhaps it was in the original script and was cut in favour of more relentless action and gun play.

But even so, what seems at first glance a somewhat standard “guns and drugs” action movie, succeeds in making its point through strong performances from Harris and Gibson.

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