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.