Film Review: Black and Blue

16:00 October 28, 2019
By: Fritz Esker

The talented Naomie Harris (28 Days Later, Skyfall, Moonlight) is left stranded in the underwhelming shot-in-New-Orleans cop thriller Black and Blue.

Harris plays a rookie African-American cop in the 9th Ward. Out on patrol, she witnesses crooked narcs (led by Frank Grillo) executing a drug dealer. Soon, she's on the run from Grillo and company in a neighborhood that's mostly hostile to cops. Her sole ally is an old acquaintance/grocery store clerk (Tyrese Gibson).

On paper, the setup could work in a way similar to The Warriors or the underrated 2015 film '71 (about a British soldier trapped in a Catholic neighborhood in Belfast). Both of those are white-knuckle thrillers about people just trying to survive a hellacious day surrounded by enemies. Black and Blue also had the chance to thoughtfully explore what it's like for African-Americans on the police force.

Unfortunately, Black and Blue does neither. Director Deon Taylor's action scenes are staged in a ho-hum, perfunctory manner. The large-scale shootout/fight that ends the film feels like it goes on forever. The characters are one-dimensional, cardboard cutouts. You know what each character will do the minute they arrive on screen. The dialogue is awkward and always spells out the script's themes in the most obvious manner possible. In the movie's most laughable moment, the villain delivers a clumsy monologue about Hurricane Katrina during a chase/shootout.

The film's only saving grace is Harris, who gives a performance that belongs in a better film.

★½ stars (out of four)

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