Black and Blue

Review by Rich Cline | 1.5/5

Black and Blue
dir Deon Taylor
scr Peter A Dowling
prd Sean Sorensen
with Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson, Frank Grillo, Mike Colter, Reid Scott, Beau Knapp, Nafessa Williams, James Moses Black, Tim Bell, Nelson Bonilla, Deneen Tyler, Frankie Smith
release US/UK 25.Oct.19
19/US Sony 1h48

grillo colter scott

harris and gibson
There's a basic concept behind this movie, which tries to use the idea of a police body-cam to spice up the standard dirty-cop thriller. The problem is that Peter Dowling's script does absolutely nothing with either the premise or characters, falling back on the simplest plot points and corniest cliches. And director Deon Taylor makes everything so noisily obvious that it's difficult to engage on any level.
After two tours in Afghanistan, Alicia (Harris) joins the New Orleans police hoping to make a difference in her hometown. Taking an extra shift for her partner Jennings (Scott), she and Officer Brown (Black) head into a rough neighbourhood. And she inadvertently films two detectives (Grillo and Knapp) murdering a drug dealer. Now they want her dead, framing her for the killing both to the cops and local mobster Darius (Colter). So now everyone wants her dead. For help, she turns to childhood friend Milo (Gibson), who finds himself in the middle of the storm.
Every moment is punctuated by bombastic music and sounds that make sure the viewer doesn't miss something. This eliminates any chance for us to lean into the story, work out character detail or be surprised. So while there's some gritty energy to the action, it's accompanied with such corny dialog that it's difficult not to laugh. Meanwhile, there's never any doubt about anyone on screen. For example, Darius is introduced in a huge fur coat and gold grill.

If it weren't for Harris, this film would be unwatchable. She attacks the role, taking no prisoners as she invests Alicia with a sense of her past and a passion for her present. Only the sketchiest elements of this are in the script, so the credit is hers. Other actors also add more than is on the page, although both Gibson and Colter are oddly directed in a way that eliminates their considerable charisma. And Grillo is never anything but a murderous goon.

Even the idea of a body-cam has been battered into oblivion by this script, which doesn't seem to understand how they work. And since it's the movie's McGuffin, the random thing everyone is chasing, it's essentially irrelevant anyway. Which completely misses the opportunity to comment on the way these cameras are impacting the job of policing. Audiences out for a movie that won't make them think might be able to enjoy this, but aside from the fabulous Harris and some beyond-mindless violence, there isn't much to see here.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 23.Sep.19

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© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall