Entertainment » Movies

Black And Blue

by Derek Deskins
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Jan 24, 2020
Black And Blue

"Black and Blue" would very much like you to think that it's something deep, contemplative, and, more than anything else, special. The film's belief that it is wise and thoughtful precipitates its demise. That isn't to say that "Black and Blue" is a poorly made film, it is exceedingly competent in its construction. It's just not anything special in the slightest.

Alicia West, having completed her stint as a member of the US Army, returns home to New Orleans. In hopes of doing some good in her community, she joins the local police force. But the New Orleans that Alicia left is in shambles. Katrina-ruined homes sit and rot, vacant and uninhabitable, while their former residents struggle to rebuild. Making things worse is a deeply corrupt police force that is concerned only with enriching themselves. Pulling a double shift, Alicia stumbles onto the execution of a local drug dealer by her brothers in blue. With the footage captured on her body cam, Alicia now faces a city turned against her, with both criminals and police trying to secure her silence by any means necessary.

"Black and Blue" is largely a taut thriller, but it just can't help to get in its own way. "Black and Blue" positions itself as an examination of race, a brash exploration of police corruption, a rumination on the struggle of rebuilding New Orleans, finishing with a note of socio-economic divide thrown in for good measure. It's a lot to unpack for any movie, and "Black and Blue" is far from equipped to handle the task.

But this is kind of how director Deon Taylor makes movies. He crams them with so many themes as a distraction, forcing you to try to understand his politics while he slips a shoddily assembled plot past you. Not helping the matter is the overly expository script from screenwriter Peter A. Dowling. Dowling, by the way, is a white British man, not exactly the ideal author for a movie ostensibly about the black experience in a broken New Orleans.

It's an unfortunate disservice to the cast, who is doing as much as they can with the material. Naomie Harris is largely relegated to screaming for help (a gross misuse of her talents), Tyrese Gibson fills his role adequately (although it wasn't until the end credits that I could determine whether his name was Miles or Mouse), and Frank Grillo eats up the remainder of the film being as gruff and badass as he possibly can (read: very). But every single character is only there in service to the plot, so no one is really given the kind of support that they would need to make this anything more than mediocre.

The Blu-ray release is lackluster. This is a perfunctory release, complete with lazy sub-five-minute featurettes and deleted scenes that no one ever needed to see. Admittedly, I'd be hard-pressed to identify what kind of special feature would have rescued this release from the doldrums of the forgettable. "Black and Blue" is a perfectly fine movie, something built for the likes of basic cable, meant to be watched while doing household chores. It's a solid-C student with a vaulted sense of self, running around town talking about how it deserves to be on the Honor Roll.

"Black and Blue"
Blu-ray + Digital
https://www.sonypictures.com/movies/blackandblue
$19.99

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