Naomie Harris and Tyrese Gibson star in “Black and Blue” (Photo Credit: Alan Markfield/Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.).
On the 1993 song “Crooked Officer” by Geto Boys, Scarface rapped, “So now we come to new dealings, F all the dumb s***, the line of work is cap peelings, I’m cutting s*** short, ain’t no filling out reports cause you ain’t making it to court.”
During the Black Lives Matter era, several movies have depicted the dangers of police brutality like “The Hate U Give.”
However, until “Black and Blue” no other movie has produced a thought-provoking and crooked look at law enforcement and how bad policing affects good cops of color.
In “Black and Blue,” Alicia West (Naomie Harris) left the Ninth Ward of New Orleans before the devastation of Hurricane Katrina for a career in the army that took her as far away from the projects as humanly possible.
But after the 2019 death of her mother, West returns to her hometown of New Orleans and joins the Police Department of New Orleans (PDNO) as a naïve rookie police officer.
While other officers avoid the Ninth Ward, unless a brother or sister in blue finds themselves in danger, like her partner Kevin Jennings (Reid Scott), West wants to ingratiate herself into the community of her youth.
While Jennings sees only bad people in the projects of the Ninth Ward, West informs him that many good people and good families call the projects home.
She wants to build relationships with the residents, especially the children, in order to improve police and community relations.
However, cops obviously have a bad reputation in the hood, and no certified hood cat would ever get caught conversing with police officers voluntarily.
Therefore, West’s homecoming is not welcoming at all as she finds a different New Orleans than what she left years earlier.
Nevertheless, the cold reception does not stop West’s desire to make a difference in the “Big Easy.”
She has so much determination that she volunteers for overtime in the place of her partner Kevin so he can enjoy a much-needed date night with his wife.
West has to partner with Officer Deacon Brown (James Moses Black) who seems less than impressed that a rookie will tag along with him on the night shift.
Brown and West have a difference in police philosophy.
While West sees herself as a Black American and a police officer, Brown lets her know that she is not Black on the streets of New Orleans. She is blue and her brothers and sisters in blue are her people.
When Brown gets “abusive” with a young street cat outside of a club after he gets into fight with another patron, West criticizes his use of excessive force until Brown shows her the gun in his waistband.
Brown lets her know that the young cat had intentions of killing her.
Although West apologizes to Brown for her rookie mistake, the tension between her and her partner remains throughout the tense night and into the early morning hours.
When Brown gets a call on his cell phone from a confidential informant to meet at an abandoned power plant, he forbids West from leaving the car as he goes in to discuss police business.
However, in New Orleans a police officer can never just chill out in a car and eat donuts while drinking coffee.
Drama can pop off at the drop of a hat in the “Crescent City.”
While sitting alone in Brown’s police cruiser, a young thundercat tries to steal a car in broad daylight right in front of the police cruiser forcing West to get out of the car to confront the would-be thief.
West cannot believe his brazenness.
But what becomes even more unbelievable is the loud gunshots coming from the abandoned power plant in broad daylight.
Already having disobeyed Brown’s directive to remain in the police vehicle, West enters the power plant because she is still an officer despite Brown’s orders.
She still has to respond to potential crime especially when she is basically a witness to the potential crime.
What if Brown is in danger and needs back up?
But what she finds when she enters the power plant is something that hood cats probably see on a daily basis.
West witnesses corruption and murder firsthand at the hands of PDNO.
And although West signed up to enforce the law, what she witnesses places her in grave danger from corrupt cops.
In “Black and Blue,” West has to get the information she knows about corrupt cops to her superiors at the PDNO before her so-called brothers and sisters in blue kill her Black behind.
Off the top, the title “Black and Blue” is powerful.
Many Black police officers, if they are honest, know that Black Americans face hell from abusive police officers that see them as nothing more than animals as Mouse (Tyrese Gibson) explains to West.
Therefore, the title “Black and Blue” represents an interesting dichotomy.
Black cops represent the blue of the police department, but their Blackness still puts themselves in danger of police brutality as West experiences in the opening scenes of “Black and Blue.”
Furthermore, “Black and Blue” shows an interesting predicament for Black people living in inner-city neighborhoods.
Although tax dollars pay police officers to protect the citizens, residents of the hood can call police officers and they never respond to their emergencies.
“Black and Blue” gets almost everything correct as far as the corruption of some police officers and police departments.
But unfortunately, “Black and Blue” does not get New Orleans correct.
Like the movie “When the Bough Breaks,” also based in New Orleans, “Black and Blue” presents the Ninth Ward without the popular New Orleans accent and without much New Orleans slang.
New Orleans is not really New Orleans without the famous Cajun lingo.
A Ninth Ward resident, now living in Houston since Hurricane Katrina displaced him, said that “Black and Blue” should have utilized real New Orleans actors and residents to produce that true “Big Easy” authenticity.
But “Black and Blue” does get police corruption correct.
“Black and Blue” puts crooked cops on blast for their illegal and criminal behavior.
On the Geto Boys’ “Crooked Officer,” Big Mike (and New Orleans native/Houston resident) rapped, “Jackin’ n***** up tryin’ to capture me, coppers wanna gaffle me, tryin’ to put bullets into the back of me, time and time again I told them I didn’t do it, and they knew it, but they still pursued it, so them MF’s blew it.”
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