“Black and Blue” is a movie title that could represent the terrible beating that both the local citizens and the law enforcement system takes. Or it could mean the divide between the low-income (and even lower class) people of color (black) and the local police force (men and women in blue). The standard stereotypes of inner-city gang-bangers and drug dealers is alive here. Also alive is the idea of a corrupt police force that represents oppression and prejudice instead of justice. But even with typical tropes that are being portrayed, there is enough good acting and action on the screen to make your time worthwhile.
Alicia West (Naomie Harris) is a New Orleans native who was off to war overseas and is now in the NOPD. Officer West is new on the job, and she gets along well with her partner Officer Jennings (Reid Scott). West does a double shift and gets paired up with Office Brown (James Moses Black). When Brown makes an unusual stop, West is told to stay in the car. But when she hears gunshots, she goes to investigate. She finds Officer Brown with a couple of undercover narcs, led by Officer Terry Malone (Frank Grillo). She sees a shocking murder of a low-level drug dealer, but it was done by Malone. West has a body camera, and it caught the entire event.
Malone and his partner try to get West, and she is shot. But she, and her camera footage, escape and she goes on the run. She finds a man who runs a small store in the hood. “Mouse” Jackson (Tyrese Gibson) is guy with no love of the racist cops. But he is surprised that West has been wounded and on the run. Mouse helps her out and has another run in with other dirty cops. West is all alone and she tries to get her partner Officer Jennings to help her. But she finds that he is also part of the corrupt crew. Also, the drug dealer that was shot was the nephew of Darius (Mike Colter) – who is the Biggest Bad on the Block. Malone convinces Darius that it was Officer West who was the shooter. Now West has dirty cops and a huge group of heavily armed thugs out to get her.
West finds Mouse once again, and he feels like he wants to help. But when Darius puts out a hit on West – she is going to be dead meat. If the corrupt cops don’t get to her first. The body camera footage can set everything straight, but there is no way that she can get it to the station to show the captain. Mouse and West are out on the run, out in the Mean Streets of lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. Mouse and West are outnumbered, and soon Mouse is taken by Darius and his gang. West is now alone, and she makes a bold decision to walk into the viper den – she is going to meet Darius and his crew. Will West stay safe, and will Mouse survive? Will the SWAT team come into the slums and try and get West? Will Malone find West before anyone else and stop her – stop her dead?
Naomie Harris does a very admirable job playing the new Officer on the run. She is good in this role and she makes the best out of a standard role. Also, Tyrese Gibson is fine as the smart and caring “Mouse” Jackson. He gets into a difficult position, but he trusts his instincts. Mouse believes that Officer West is one of the good ones. Frank Grillo does his best by being the typecast villian that he normally plays. Why? Becasue he is just so good at being Bad. The plot is crisp, and it keeps moving with various close encounters, chases and quick getaways. Not that the main story line is fresh and new, but they are able to rev it up with some new ideas. The body-cam footage makes it interesting. The idea of the loyalty to either the Blue Team or the Black Team is worked into the story, along with the twist of Dirty Cops who have their own Team.
“Black and Blue” has a few good points to make, even when many have been made before. The dirty, grungy look of the inner city streets stand out. There are quite a few stereotypes, but the action is quick-paced and very easy to follow. There are a few downsides, but there is a gritty tenseness that makes it something fun to watch.
Black and Blue
Directed by: Deon Taylor
Written by: Peter A. Dowling
Starring: Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson, Frank Grillo, Mike Colter, Reid Scott, James Moses Black
Length: 108 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller