Black and Blue

October 30, 2019 ·
Naomi Harris trades up London for New Orleans in Black and Blue.

“In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime, and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

Any fan of the long running tv series Law & Order and it’s battery of spin offs, is quite familiar with this opening monologue assuring us that we have two advocates to help us achieve justice. But what happens when one of those representatives/advocates of the people, is the offender? How do the people react when those whose job is to maintain law and order, disobey the law, eschew order, deny the people justice, and, ironically, commit crime themselves?

Bond girl Naomi Harris trades up MI-6 in London for America’s Big Easy, New Orleans in Black and Blue, another fast moving cop flick hailing from the deep south that scrutinizes the hypocritical reality of police corruption. Despite the soberly familiar storyline ,there’s never a shortage of intensity or requisite action to keep one from being thoroughly engaged. It has that “edge of your seat” excitement you can’t resist.

Harris portrays army vet Alicia West, returning from waging war in Afghanistan, to wage another war against criminals as a New Orleans police officer. Although still basically a rookie, she ‘s truly dedicated to upholding the law. She believes in stopping the bad guys- no matter who they are and is the personification of the good book’s Psalm 106:3b. However, it doesn’t take long for her to learn that this idealistic view is not shared by some of her fellow officers.

One of these capricious cops is seasoned veteran officer, Deacon Brown (James Moses Black), who, while partnering up with him temporarily, stringently reminds West that her relationship with her own people of color is over. “You’re blue now”, he strongly declares with a no nonsense attitude that definitely harbors a stern warning. And it’s certainly not about being a good, honest police officer.

This is unremarkably obvious when, on their second day out, Brown takes an unscheduled detour from his normal route, to a seemingly abandoned warehouse. Unbeknownst to West, the reason for this sudden stop is totally bogus, and Brown flat-out orders her to stay in the car. He’s attending a “friendly” gathering of city drug dealers who apparently have some of New Orleans finest in their pockets.

Apparently, these dealers/”officers of the law”, including Frank Grillo’s Terry Malone, don’t have sense enough to use silencers when killing people. So when West hears gunfire from within, her police/partner instincts immediately kick in, and promptly heads inside to investigate- with her police mini cam recording everything. She (unintentionally of course), captures the merciless demise of a young man we know only as Zero.

From this point, visceral action goes non-stop as West, a material witness to something she was not supposed to see, must now run from her fellow officers, and others in the hood made aware via their cells, to stay alive long enough to expose the truth about what’s happened. And with seemingly everyone against her, including some old friends, that certainly will not be a proverbial walk in the city park.

Tyrese Gibson, taking a break from Fast and Furious exertion, is one old friend, knick named “Mouse”, who reluctantly decides to risk life and limb to help Alicia. Although dodging cops, criminals, and fellow residents of the hood isn’t exactly something he relishes, somehow, he feels it’s worth it.

Nafessa Williams Missy, another childhood friend, feels just the opposite however. She shows no mercy “unfriending” Alicia due to her cop status, considering her a mortal enemy of the hood who has chosen her side.

Self taught director Deon Taylor and British screenwriter Peter Dowling are apparently a formidable combo. They aptly hurl us into a non-stop barrage of fierce car and foot chases, and relentless shoot outs between the good guys and the other, supposedly good guys.

Requisite viral intensity toward a dramatic climax is expertly handled by veteran DP Dante Spinotti’s (Public Enemies, Ant Man and the Wasp) skillful use of cameras squarely focusing on Harris’s West who deftly carries the film on her able shoulders.

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