The police bodycam serves one function- to capture video and audio of what’s happening once a police officer turns the device on. Most of the time it captures the police doing their job while the other times, wrong doings are unfolding. The new thriller titled Black and Blue takes this device and gives us a scenario in which an officer becomes the target of manhunt from corrupt cops. The idea sounds simple enough but what transpires is a movie overstuffed with exposition, weak character motivation and an experience that feels more tedious than exciting.
The city of New Orleans is split between the residents and the police. Us versus them. I thought to myself why the movie wasn’t named “Black and White” because that’s the attitude of almost every character in this film. The only character who displays any middle ground is Officer Alicia West (Naomie Harris), a rookie cop who’s just three weeks in and witnesses a change in people she used to know when she was much younger. People look at her differently, talk in a different manner and now consider her the enemy.
If you’ve seen the previews before, then you know what to expect. West is on patrol when her partner makes a stop to meet a C.I. (criminal informant). She hears gunfire and goes to investigate and sees something she didn’t expect: dirty cops led by Frank Grillo’s Terry Malone are murdering the C.I.’s in cold blood and her bodycam recorded all the footage. One of the cops notices this and shoots West several times, throwing her back into a weak floor. She escapes with injuries, leaving the cops furious and desperate to get that bodycam or kill Officer West, or both.
Chases scenes ensues, gunfire is exchanged and West is all on her own. No one can be trusted as she later learns that two other cops are involved. Fast-forward a little bit and she seeks the help of a store clerk named Miles (Tyrese Gibson). They knew each other before she moved away and he has a hard time trusting the people who wear the color blue. Together they must survive the day and night from the corrupt police gunning for them both. I rather enjoyed seeing Gibson play a serious role this time around, as it reminded me of his character performance in 2006’s Waist Deep.
You’d think with a story like this and the previews that Black and Blue would have plenty of action? Well they show most of it in the trailer. Overall, the movie could’ve been so much more but whenever the action is happening, it’s bogged down by an overload of exposition. Characters talk about their past history, the struggle of trust between people and police, and who really killed those informants. It simultaneously proves to be too much dialogue and quite boring to listen to repeatedly.
There are characters a plenty in this film, which also feel too much. The movie is advertised as a cop on the run thriller, but instead we’re forced to sit and listen to boring dialogue from characters who don’t have much of a brain. For example, I had many thoughts running through my mind. Like, why doesn’t West called for backup when she first heard the gunshots which drew her attention? Why doesn’t she call a cab or steal a vehicle since she doesn’t know who she can trust? Why does this movie feel so long after just barely over one-hundreds minutes long?
Director Deon Taylor is a man who makes good-looking films, but whose plots end up boring the audience. Traffik and this year’s The Intruder are his two most recent works and, while Black and Blue looks good, it’s still an empty mess. I think he goes for the cool-looking shots and doesn’t oversee the script to make sure its engaging to the audience. I yawned several times during this screening because the longer on it went, the less interested I became. The film’s script needed to remain focused on the chase itself, rather that continuously bombarding the audience with pointless exposition that I didn’t care about.
Verdict: 2 out of 5 Stars
Black and Blue features good acting from a cast working with a script that can’t seem to make up its mind. It’s tonally imbalanced between a chase movie and a story about about finding yourself in life and whether you’re on the right side. Naomie Harris is a wonderful actress and a good screen presence and even I’m surprised she would agree to make a movie like this. I understand what the filmmakers were trying to do but including your much needed social debate superseded what you were advertising. and ultimately the characters motivations left me scratching my head in confusion. This project could’ve been much more, but it’s too overstuffed with dialogue that takes the audience away from action that looks cool but feels like a technical exercise designed to entertain the audience. In other words, it’s simply “boring”.