On the surface, Black and Blue seems like your typical cop Thriller where good cop witnesses bad cops doing something criminally inappropriate. The bad cops then want to silence good cop and go all out to do so with the good cop eventually prevailing in the end.
That’s pretty much how the movie goes. However, this film captivates your senses mostly by invoking black lives matter and creating battle lines between the two sides: the police and the black community. This is pretty evident by the title of the film, “Black and Blue.”
Right out of the gate the film’s prologue sets the tone as Alicia West (Naomie Harris), a new patrol officer who just got back from two tours in Afghanistan, is detained by White police officers for the “crime” of jogging while black. Then in a subsequent scene when she’s in uniform a more senior black police officer tells her “You’re one of us” meaning that blue trumps black.
This tug of war on Alicia West’s psyche creates all the tension needed surprisingly to carry this film for the rest of its duration. And it is quite effective. Naomie Harris does an awesome job portraying the weight of carrying the burden on what side of the line Alicia belongs on.
After witnessing one of her colleagues (Beau Knapp) commit murder and then is shot because she was wearing a body camera, she does not hesitate in making her decision about what to do with the footage. “I’m going to get it into evidence and expose them,” she tells her friend Mouse (Tyrese Gibson), her only ally seemingly in all of New Orleans as she goes on the run trying to hide from all the cops pursuing her, while also mending her wounds.
The cops, of course, have blamed the killings, whose victims include the nephew of a powerful drug lord (Mike Colter) all on Alicia. and suddenly, just like that, for this Army vet, the streets of New Orleans becomes a war zone for her to now navigate.
The film, for the most part, is suspenseful as Alicia is forced to run a gauntlet of corrupt (or misinformed) cops, criminals out for vengeance, and citizens who are just simply sick and tired of police harassment. And although the film is quite predictable the action is gripping. Frank Grillo, who’s the bad cops’ quasi leader, makes for a pretty good standard villain that we’ve all seen before.
Harris’s passionate performance and the rapport that her character develops with Tyrese Gibson’s Mouse is what makes the film the most enjoyable. There is a lack of character development only because of the film’s premise and how its setup. Black and Blue is pretty much a “black and white” film right down the line with Alicia never wavering in her sense of right and wrong. There are a couple of characters whose motives and choices will keep you guessing about what role they’re playing but it’s all pretty much still predictable to a T.
But with me saying all this, it doesn’t mean that this film isn’t entertaining. Because it is! This crime thriller comes with a message of unity and by the end of the film, it achieves this message.
Black and Blue works as a film by not trying to reinvent the wheel and simply sticking to the script.