Black and Blue

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A long time ago, I grew tired of movies that wanted the narrative to be all about dirty cops. It’s funny because I remember as a kid in the ‘70s, watching an interview show in which an African American actor complained that most roles for black actors were pimps or crooks. And there was a time in the ‘90s I heard a Middle Eastern actor complain about early in his career, always being cast as a terrorist. It was easy to understand both of those complaints. Yet someone needs to explain to me why it’s okay in 90% of films that have a police officer as a protagonist, they’re dirty. And as I’ve always said, I don’t care what you do with the characters if it’s an entertaining movie. It’s just that movies with crooked cops, are usually so far-fetched. Although I’m saying that as one of the few people that didn’t care for Training Day (and Denzel won an Oscar for that over-the-top performance). There’s even a bathtub scene in this that’s similar to Training Day.

Director Deon Taylor (The Intruder) seems content with giving you a formulaic thriller that is the most predictable movie of the year.

Most critics will dislike this (I sure hope), but they’re going to want to say things like “The performances by Tyrese Gibson and Naomie Harris are good.”

Uh, who cares? If the script sucks, why do I care if Sir Laurence Olivier is reading the lines? It’s still idiotic. Screenwriter Peter A Dowling (Flightplan, Reasonable Doubt) really disappoints with this garbage. It’s dumb from the opening scene, when officer Alicia West (Harris) is jogging in her neighborhood with a hoodie on, and two white cops pull up next to her and get abusive, until they realize “she’s a blue, she’s a blue!”

Because I suppose these filmmakers just want to get a message across that a person of color can be jogging during the day, and cops will throw you up against a wall and harass you for no reason. And even if they’re going to go down that path, there’s a way to do that in a believable fashion, in which the questioning of the officers just makes things escalate. I didn’t care for The Hate U Give, but at least it got those types of scenes right.

Perhaps a good story could’ve been culled from the idea of black officers trying to navigate a neighborhood where minorities hate cops, and they might also get some attitude from their fellow officers. Instead, we get a black cop who not only works for the biggest drug kingpin in town, he’s stupid enough to be horribly mean to this rookie officer who is riding with him during a double-shift. He’s also dumb enough to go make a deal (i.e. murder) the guy while she “waits in the car.” Because of the trailers for the movie, you know what happens next.

There’s a side story with a woman who was friends with Alicia, but recents her for leaving town when they were 17 (she joined the Army before becoming a cop), and resents her more for returning and “trying to make a difference”. Especially since she runs with the Kingston Crew, a gang that deals heavily in drugs. There’s a big time drug dealer (Mike Colter of Luke Cage) that wants revenge when his nephew is killed by the dirty cops. Except he’s under the impression that it was the rookie cop that did the shooting. That means everyone is after Alicia.

Of course, when she’s on the run and can’t go to the cops because she doesn’t know who is dirty, she calls her partner (Reid Scott of Veep). He has to be a nice guy, right? After all, he didn’t want to work that double shift so he could spend time with his family. And hell, she’s known him all of three weeks, and he bought her coffee. He has to be a good guy, right? Well, if you’re not sure of the answer to that question, this might be the thriller for you.

I’m guessing there are some people that will think this movie does a great job of speaking on societal issues. There are others that don’t mind the tropes you’ve seen hundreds of times before in better movies. For my wife and I, watching this was one of the biggest wastes of time all year.

0 stars. 


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