Monday, October 21, 2019

Movie with Abe: Black and Blue

Black and Blue
Directed by Deon Taylor
Released October 25, 2019

Racial tensions are high in today’s world, and a major contributor to that dynamic is the treatment of communities of color by the police. There have been a slew of films recently that have featured this complex relationship onscreen, with some featuring black police officers who are themselves pulled over or stopped by other members of law enforcement. Usually, the subject is given a dramatic treatment that continues to follow the story into the legal system. In an industry that sometimes just wants to deliver cheap thrills, there’s no reason to expect that this topic wouldn’t be adapted into an action movie format.

Alicia West (Naomie Harris) is a rookie cop just a few weeks into the job. When she takes a shift for her partner Kevin (Reid Scott), she witnesses the execution of a drug dealer by a group of corrupt cops led by Terry Malone (Frank Grillo). Aware that she has captured the footage on her body cam, Malone launches a full-on pursuit of West, framing her as the killer so that the victim’s mobster uncle, Darius (Mike Colter), will send his people after her as well. West must turn to the neighborhood she grew up in for survival, depending upon a man named Mouse (Tyrese Gibson) who is far from eager to become involved in the dangerous situation in which she finds herself.

The reputation of the police in real life is bad enough in some places that to presume that officers and detectives are completely corrupt to the point of killing those they find to be problematic in an almost casual way hardly seems necessary. Yet this film follows many established cinematic tropes, which include an inability to operate undetected within the ranks of the police department yet a shocking ineptness when it comes to being constantly outrun and outsmarted by the wounded newbie who manages to get away from them.

Harris, who was nominated for an Oscar for her maternal role in “Moonlight,” does her best to take this role seriously, though that’s admittedly difficult at times. She’s undeniably the strongest member of the cast, with Grillo playing the same villainous part he always does and Colter flailing in a role that doesn’t really fit him. This film skips over logic when it’s convenient, and the narrative that results is full of holes and absurdities. The dialogue is often laughable, and while this doesn’t need to have been a thinking piece, it should have been much better than this.


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