Review: Black and Blue (2019)

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Black and Blue (2019)

Directed by: Deon Taylor | 108 minutes | action, crime | Actors: Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson, Frank Grillo, Mike Colter, Reid Scott, Beau Knapp, Nafessa Williams, James Moses Black, Carsyn Taylor, Lucky Johnson, Deneen Tyler, Michael Papajohn, Nelson Bonilla, Frankie Smith

What does an American filmmaker do with a lack of inspiration? He picks up the big book of one-line success scenarios and makes his choice. What can he choose from? A bank robbery spirals out of control and visitors and staff are taken hostage. Two opposites (m/f) are forced to work together (ends with marriage). Talented musician/athlete/poet from a provincial slum will participate in a competition for talented musicians/athletes/poets in the big city. Young cop (m/f), just out of police academy, discovers that the police force is rotten as hell in its first position.

Which brings us to the American action drama ‘Black and Blue’. Afghanistan veteran Alicia enlists in a police force in Louisiana, the state in which she grew up. She’s one of the few African-American cops on the team, but her white co-workers seem like cool guys. Until one day she goes on patrol and she sees things she shouldn’t have seen. Then she gets the corrupt police team after her and members of a bloody gangster crew. Then the question is: how is she going to survive this?

The answer to that question is also based on clichés: by fighting, running and because the 250,000 bullets that her opponents fire just miss the right direction. ‘Black and Blue’ will therefore not win the originality prize and we also miss great acting here. The social message may be topical and urgent, but not really well developed.

The action scenes and the tension make up for a lot. The action is of the ungainly kind, that 250,000 bullets were still a conservative estimate. The tension is twofold. At the beginning there is always an indefinable threat hanging over the whole, then all hell breaks loose and we experience many tricky minutes with our heroine. With some dramatic scenes in between as rest points.

The greatest asset of ‘Black and Blue’, however, is the setting. We are in Louisiana’s most shabby locations for two hours. Disintegrating apartment buildings, shops that you would rather expect in Africa, an energy factory in an advanced state of decomposition. These locations and the tension don’t make ‘Black and Blue’ a masterpiece, but they are great entertainment for a rainy day. Indeed, the latter comes from the big book of one-line review clichés.

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