Movie Review: BLACK AND BLUE Starring Naomie Harris, Mike Colter, Frank Grillo
Black and Blue stars Naomi Harris as Alecia West, a rookie daytime cop in New Orleans who accidentally witnesses the killing of a drug dealer informant by some corrupt officers in her department. Not only did she see it, but her body cam recorded it and the murdering cops know both of these things and will do whatever it takes to get to her and that recording before she can get it back to the station.
What ensues is a cat and mouse game of West eluding the corrupt officers (led by Frank Grillo) and figuring out who she can trust along the way. The film establishes early the racial tension in this section of New Orleans and West feels it doubly, as the community in which she was raised distrusts her now that she’s a police officer. This is why when she stumbles into an old friend named Mouse (Tyrese Gibson), he’s reluctant to help her.
The movie struggled for me in a lot of ways with the biggest issue being its screenplay. Dialogue rarely felt authentic and was used heavily to move things along sometimes too conveniently. When West’s partner is overly excited about date night with his wife, the chief comes in and tells him he needs coverage on the night shift, which of course, ends with West taking it on because that’s where we need our character to be to move forward.
The film starts off tense, demonstrating many uncomfortable situations. In the opening scene, a couple of white cops stop Alecia during her morning jog with a very unconvincing reason that she “fits the profile” of someone they’re looking for. Once the film gets going though, the unfortunate familiarity regarding real world issues drops and by the third act, the film loses all hope in being taken seriously.
Performance-wise, Harris and Gibson are fine given what they had to work with. Frank Grillo knocks out another tough-guy, morally-compromised cop performance (see: everything he’s ever been in). Mike Colter (Luke Cage) was comical, as he plays a local thug named Darius who’s connected to the victim but seemingly his only purpose in the film was to make cartoonish faces in several odd and overly long shots.
Black and Blue had everything it needed to potentially have something important to say but ultimately ended up not really saying much of anything. A black, female cop in a profession dominated by white men in a racially charged New Orleans setting where crime is rampant and cops are corrupt and racism is alive. The pieces are all there, and thematically, an engaging story could prevail – but I couldn’t help but feel it run of the mill.
In a lot of ways, Black and Blue felt like it was trying too hard to be Training Day. I mean, at one point, our protagonist is pleading for her life in a bathtub. Come on!