Film Review: BLACK AND BLUE (USA 2019) ***

Black and Blue Poster

A rookie police officer in New Orleans has to balance her identity as a black woman with her role as a police officer when she witnesses other police officers committing murder.


Deon Taylor

Black female rookie cop is wounded while witnessing a killing performed by corrupt cops in the police force.  Singularly, she escapes from being killed while exposing all the corruption in the process with the help of an unlikely helper.  Everyone in the story is corrupted including her partner.  

This is familiar action thriller territory done before, most notably in the acclaimed Anthony Fuqua’s TRAINING DAY.

BLACK AND BLUE is the kind of film critics, when reading of the plot shudder with an ‘ugh’ for having to go see the film and then review this re-cycled story.  The film has already got seriously mediocre reviews on the internet.  (Rotten Tomatoes awarded 60% approval at the time of writing.)

But wait.  The promo screening that I attended had the audience not only applauding at the end but a fellow critic sitting next to me clapping at one scene during the climax.  Though the film is far from perfect, BLACK AND BLUE is not all bad, and in fact quite enjoyable – all things considered.

NOPD (New Orleans) rookie Alicia West (Naomie Harris) captures the murder of a drug dealer on her camcorder she wears on her police vest. What is more disturbing is that the murder has been committed by her partner and a squad of dirty police officers (Frank Frillo as Malone, Reid Scott and Beau Knapp).  Unable to get help from her former community or the police department she is sworn to, West allies herself with a stranger named Milo aka Mouse (Tyrese Gibson) in an attempt to expose the murder while a local gang puts out a bounty on West’s life.

BLACK AND BLUE sufferers from many of the pitfalls of similar themed action thrillers.  These include overlong chases (West is chased for the longest time through backyards), continuity (Harris looks better even as the day goes on as her character set is supposed to be fatigued and terribly wounded), familiar situations (West solo against everyone else corrupt), typical Rap soundtrack among others.   West also cannot die – the excuse given being that she had served in Iraq.

Despite the film’s flaws, one has to credit the filmmakers for really trying to differentiate their work despite treading on familiar territory.  This is obvious from the very first scenes wth cop conflict.  The good and bad characters are also not black and white cardboard written figures.  Though West’s partner is corrupt, he has some heart as evident during the film’s final moments.  Naomie Harris is convincing enough in her role though the role requires her to show a bit of skin – as she has to patch up a gunshot would with (yes, believe it or not) glue.  Apparently, that is what they do in Iraq, the audience is told.

BLACK AND BLUE costs $12 million to make.  There are not a whole lot of African American films out there and BLACK AND BLUE is a welcome entry.  It has been projected to gross between $8- $11 million opening weekend which means BLACK AND BLUE will be at least a moderate box-office hit.


Film Review: THE INTRUDER (USA 2019)

The Intruder Poster

A young married couple buy a beautiful house on several acres of land only to find out that the man they bought it from refuses to let go of the property.


Deon Taylor

THE INTRUDER is a slasher flick advertised as a psychological thriller featuring no real surprises, about a couple having to survive an intruder to their new home.  As far as intruder movies go, it is a well-worn genre done in one form or other.  The best ones are the two FUNNY GAMES, both directed by Michale Haneke, the Austrian and Hollywood versions.

THE INTRUDER sees a handsome looking black couple, Scott Howard (Michael Ealy) and the missus, Annie (Meagan Good) purchasing their dream home in the wine Napa Valley.  They leave city life for the wine region.  But they do not get what they dream of.   Instead of a funny and entertaining GREEN ACRES, the scenario turns out to be a campy horror INTRUDER in which director Taylor accomplishes a few good turns but ends up churning out a run-of-the-mill boring slasher film.

There are two kind of black films.  One shows the hardship of the African Americans like IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, MOONLIGHT or 7 YEARS A SLAVE.  The others are these unrealistic fairy tales, especially the romantic comedies and this one that show the blacks as rich, wealthy and beautiful people.  They often work in advertising agencies or some executive position with white people as their lackeys.

The married couple move into a gorgeous mansion that has been carefully kept for generations by its owner Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid).  After selling the house Peck keeps showing up unannounced, much to the chagrin of Scott, though the wife does not mind the extra help Peck offers.  Peck is supposed to leave to live with his daughter but that date never realizes.       

It soon becomes apparent that Peck has the hots for Annie.  When Scott gets aggressive with Peck, Peck runs him off the road while jogging.

The careless script is glaringly full of loopholes.  When Scott is in hospital, he asks his world buddy and colleague, Mike (Joseph Sikora) to run a background on Peck.  That very night, Mike has got all the back information on Peck, way too soon and way to convenient before Peck starts terrorizing Annie.

The only interesting character in the film is Mike, the white friend of the couple, who the audience is sure of will come to a grisly and violent death.  Mike is conveniently freaked out by a domineering Peck, making up the film’s queaziest scene.

The otherwise unimpressive film film benefits from Wilson’s occasional inspired direction and Quaid’s campiness.  One such example is the scene that suddenly lights up that reveals Quaid crouched up and ready to pounce on the unsuspecting victim.  A few other good camera angles achieve a few surprise jolts as well.  Dennis Quaid, a handsome bulked up actor now shows signs of his age though still possessing a body to be envious for.  Quaid hams it up, giving the film some camp and wicked humour needed to lift the film out of the doldrums.  One scene has her licking his victim’s body using his tongue to file her while she is passed out.

The audience at the promo screening appear to be enjoying the movie, though laughing too much for a horror film.