Review: Police thriller 'Black and Blue' mired in cop cliches

Story of corrupt cops overshadows themes of racial tension in by-the-numbers action outing

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

In "Black and Blue," what begins as a thoughtful examination of racial relations in post-Katrina New Orleans quickly devolves into a by-the-numbers thriller about police corruption. 

Academy Award-nominee Naomie Harris ("Moonlight") is Alicia West, a former NOLA resident who returns to her hometown to join the police force after serving a stint in the Army in Afghanistan.  

Naomie Harris and Tyrese Gibson in "Black and Blue."

She's not exactly welcomed back with open arms. She receives glares from former peers, who call her an Uncle Tom, and early on, she's stopped by cops while on her morning jog through her neighborhood. "I'm blue," she tells them, barely receiving an apology. 

While pulling a double as a favor to her partner Kevin ("Veep's" Reid Scott), Alicia's body cam rolls as a squad of dirty cops (Frank Grillo among them) kill a drug dealer in cold blood. Thus begins Alicia's effort to return the footage (and herself) to police headquarters, though she's stifled along the way by a ring of corrupt officers, and her only ally is a sympathetic grocery store clerk, Mouse (Tyrese Gibson). 

Director Deon Taylor effectively captures the anxious mood and Alicia's sense of displacement, while other simple story details — for long stretches it's unclear what time of day it's supposed to be — elude him. Meanwhile the script by Peter A. Dowling is outrageous; video games have more believable turns, and the whole story would cease to exist if Alicia simply caught an Uber to the police station.

Any semblance of the soulful film about racial tensions is buried by the final showdown, where logic is abandoned for action movie fireworks. Attempting to draw something more from "Black and Blue" will leave you feeling beaten and bruised.


'Black and Blue'


Rated R: for violence and language

Running time: 108 minutes