Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Movie with Abe: Red, White and Blue

Red, White and Blue
Directed by Steve McQueen
Released December 4, 2020 (Amazon Prime)

There is a belief many have that the only way to change a problematic system is to become part of it. Establishing reforms and new policies may only be possible by confronting what exists directly and taking active steps to dismantle it. That drive, while noble and often effective, does include a strong likelihood of disappointment, since seeing the state of affairs up close and truly understanding the work that needs to be done can be indicative of just how arduous it will be. That can inspire some and discourage others, since fighting an uphill battle is never easy.

Leroy Logan (John Boyega) works as a forensic scientist in London, eager to give back to his community in a way that he knows he can. When his father, Kenneth (Steve Toussaint), is stopped and attacked by policemen, Leroy realizes that he needs to do more to make a difference. Enrolling as a cadet for the Metropolitan Police, the smart and capable Leroy becomes a literal poster child for the academy’s commitment to diversity, a notion that Leroy continually sees is not reflected in the backwards and hateful attitudes of his fellow officers that go unchecked and result in truly deplorable profiling and practices.

This film is the third in an anthology series called “Small Axe” directed by Steve McQueen, best known for the Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave.” After the music-heavy “Lovers Rock,” this film returns to the themes of the first, “Mangrove,” looking at the power of the police and the way in which they deliberately target Black communities. Leroy has achieved a good deal in his life despite the way that those who look like him are treated, and he is determined to effect change, knowing just how hard it may be. The most affecting moments in this film come when Leroy witnesses or hears derogatory behavior directed at minority groups or colleagues and his anger boils over, intent on taking a stand even if he knows that his action will have negative personal consequences down the line.

Boyega is a popular actor who, like Letitia Wright from “Black Panther” in “Mangrove,” should be familiar to audiences from his role in the latest Star Wars films. While that part was someone comedic, this one is deadly serious, and Boyega does a formidable job of displaying total commitment to an idea above anything else, resolute in his determination to make a difference. At just under eighty minutes, this film feels slightly short, but it still manages to probe the ways in which a system that might be described as complex is really much simpler, and the first step to breaking it down is not to let anything go unchallenged, however difficult that may be. It’s a powerful lesson for the present moment that is effectively argued through this film’s content.


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