Courtesy of Sony
In the new cop thriller “Black and Blue,” a minor film that tries to push the conversation further around police corruption and brutality, Naomie Harries (“Moonlight”) - after a slew of supporting roles in franchises like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “James Bond” - is promoted to lead status. She’s the best thing about the generic Deon Taylor film as the emotionally charged and physically demanding New Orleans police officer Alicia West.
Taylor sets up the film in a tense scene early on where West - out for her morning jog - gets stopped and roughed up by local officers during their patrol only to discover she’s a “blue,” a code-name given to off-duty officers. This lays the groundwork for the contrast of worlds Alicia is caught in between - black and white, male and female and just regular people (she served two tours in Afghanistan and has no immediate family to speak off). But instead of exploring those elements further, Taylor ops for the safer, far more commercial approach as Alicia, on a night-shift, catches on her body cam a triple murder committed by her colleagues.
Being this is an action thriller after all, the bad guys (headed by a scene chewing Frank Grillo) try to kill her and she manages to escape with her life. Now on the run, she seeks help from a neighborhood store owner Mouse (Tyrese Gibson in one of his more somber performances) in an effort to stay alive long enough to upload the footage to the precinct server.
That’s easier said than done, considering Mr. Grillo has the city at his fingertips and puts out a bounty on her head. He even convinces the local gang it was her who pulled the trigger on one of their own, inciting even more chaos to accompany Alicia’s situation. It’s messy whichever way you piece it together and Taylor struggles to keep all the dangling plotlines interwoven, but he’s lucky to have Harris anchor the film’s more heavy emotional burdens.
Dante Spintotti decent cinematography and composer Geoff Zanelli’s score go a long way here, yet their contributions can’t save “Black and Blue” from consisting of rowdy shoot-em’ up sequences, and foot chases that, in the end, outweigh the films broader message regarding social and racial issues. And, in the final showdown with the bad guys, one of them tries to mutter something about how Hurricane Katrina affected the city and I couldn’t help but laugh. During the entire movie that subplot felt like it was waiting to be unearth, but Taylor tosses it in so carelessly that it has no impact whatsoever.
Ironically, that’s kind of how “Black and Blue” felt too.