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November 13, 2019

Black & Blue (2019) --- “The Truth Made Her A Target.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     After doing two tours in the military and graduating at the top of her class, a rookie cop, Alicia West (Naomie Harris), returns to serve the ninth ward of New Orleans, her childhood home and is met with a surprisingly hostile reception from childhood friends. While pulling a double shift with officer Deacon (James Moses Black), Alicia inadvertently captures him and corrupt cops (Frank Grillo and Beau Knapp) murder a criminal informant on her body cam. Now on the run from both the vengeful criminals (Mike Colter) and the corrupt cops who desperately want to destroy the incriminating footage, Alicia enlists the help of her old friend Milo (Tyrese Gibson), who is less than eager to assist her.
     Directed by Deon Taylor (Traffik, The Intruder) and written by Peter A. Dowling (Flightplan, Sacrifice), Black and Blue (2019) is a tense action thriller that continually asks the question “Are you one of us, or are you one of them?” and is subsequently follows an interesting narrative about law enforcement and race relations. However, the story falls short of being as successful as it was intended to be. Taylor and Dowling use rising tensions with police activity and other issues to be the story’s premise but they are unwilling to go beyond the basics. Instead, they chose to send the audience on a chase that leads to them encountering moronic characters who seem to be unable to do the simplest of tasks. Mistrust with law enforcement is laid on thick, which makes every character appear to be corrupt and thus leaving Alicia as the only bright spot in an otherwise oppressive film. The pace is sluggish and keeps the film from going beyond the few action sequences we were graced with. Now don’t get me wrong this is still an entertaining film, but if you were expecting a deep storyline and an explosion of large scale action sequences then you will be sorely mistaken.
     The cast performances were good. Naomi Harris’ (Rampage, Moonlight) performance as Alicia West is a nice blend of street smarts, a hardened soldier, and a vulnerable rookie that helps to elevate and carry the film. Tyrese Gibson’s (Fate of the Furious) performance as Milo "Mouse" Jackson shows us a slightly different kind of character then the ones we have seen from him before. He was rough around the edges and more of the silent observer but he was also a bit one dimensional and only serves as a moment of rest for Alicia amongst all the chaos. Mike Colter (Luke Cage) was a good choice to Darius but there were times when it seemed like he was trying to hard to be the big bad tough drug dealer. Frank Grillo’s (The Purge: Anarchy) performance as Malone was believable and he easily pulled off the sleazy corrupt cop who is willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants. The rest of the cast - Reid Scott (Why Women Kill), Beau Knapp (Death Wish), Nafessa Williams (Black Lightning), and James Moses Black (This is Us) - all gave good performances but they were also one dimensional and could have been expanded upon more.

     Overall, Black & Blue (2019) is a tense action-packed film that has a good story premise that continually asks the question “Are you one of us, or are you one of them?” but it fails to go beyond being one-dimensional. The cast performances were good, especially form Naomi Harris, but a few of them try just a bit too hard to sell their character. All in all, Black and Blue may have a few issues and set-backs but the premise is good and the action is tense which makes for an entertaining enough film.

Final Vote --- 6 of 10 stars

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