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Black and Blue

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Black and Blue Movie Poster Image
Strong, ethical heroine elevates violent bad-cop actioner.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Be the change. Don't see the world as enemies and allies, but as people doing their best to get by. Right and wrong matter, no matter who you are, where you come from, or your position in life. Themes include courage, integrity, empathy, perseverance.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alicia is a veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan, returned to her childhood home as police officer. As a youth, she'd been in trouble, but she made the right choices to find a positive path. Now she's smart, tough, clever, brave, with integrity and strong moral compass. In tough situations, she chooses what's right over what's easy -- even over what might save her life. Police captain is also a Black woman trying to clean the police force of corruption. Mouse, a Black man in a poverty-stricken area of town, defies stereotypes, is a strong man who shows his emotions. An intimidating/violent drug-dealing kingpin/gang leader is handsome, stylish, definitely the coolest character in the group -- he becomes somewhat of a sympathetic character. The villain gives an explanation for why he's turned to a criminal life, blaming the government and positioning himself as a saint of sorts. The hero doesn't buy it, but viewers might see it as a validation of anti-authority beliefs.

Violence

Lots of gun violence. Guns are sometimes put to the head as a threat, but often to kill. One shoot-out is explosively bloody and deadly. Beatings include torture against a woman and a defenseless man: Punches, kicks, a metal pipe, a piece of lumber with rusty nails are some of the weapons used. Police rough up suspects and members of the community by slamming them against cars and counters, putting guns to their head, issuing threats. A thug threatens mutilation. Frequent use of hostile, menacing, threatening language.

Sex

A man is excited about "date night" with his wife and is shown waiting in bed for her in anticipation of a marital night away from the kids.

Language

A few uses of "f--k," and "motherf---ing," plus "ass," "a--hole," "bitch," "s--t," "goddamn," "hell," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).

Consumerism

In a supermarket, Marlboro cigarette signage is seen. A rich drug dealer drives a luxury SUV, and the GMC logo is prominent. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug dealers and narcotics officers are some of the major characters in the story (all shown in a negative light), but drugs and alcohol aren't seen in use. It's implied that a villain is smoking a cigarette (a cloud of smoke is rising into the shot).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Black and Blue is an action movie about a rookie police officer named Alicia West (Naomie Harris) who finds herself being pursued by corrupt cops. The title acknowledges those in the Black community who feel consistently harassed and mistreated by law enforcement and see the Black police officers who patrol their neighborhoods as traitors. The story takes an anti-police perspective, portraying them as a brutal and powerful gang with limitless power -- except for the courageous, resilient Alicia. She's a tenacious war veteran who returns to her neighborhood to be a positive force and sees the humanity in everyone before her, no matter what "side" they're on. Another character who defies stereotypes is a strong man who shows his emotions. Be ready for lots of gun violence, including a bloody, deadly shoot-out. There are also torturous beatings involving punches, kicks, a metal pipe, and a piece of lumber with rusty nails, and police rough people up. Language is very strong, with uses of "s--t," "f--k," and more; drug dealing is key to the plot. There are frank discussions about race and police brutality, as well as themes of courage, integrity, empathy, and perseverance.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJess3 November 14, 2019

Full of action / suspense

Good movie! It’s full of suspense all the way to the end. There a few violent scenes with fighting and shootings. This movie touches on some real societal issue... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 and 15 year old Written bylokisf November 2, 2019

For the most party the family enjoyed it

The teens in the family liked the twists and the suspense. It was rewarding to see my female relatives be empowered by the main character. For that reason alone... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byYeetusTheFeetus... November 4, 2019

Amazing!

There wasn’t any explicit adult content, only some violence and some language.

What's the story?

In BLACK AND BLUE, Alicia West (Naomie Harris) is struggling with her identity as an African American cop in a primarily Black neighborhood that doesn't trust the police. Things get even more complicated when her body cam records the murder of a drug dealer by corrupt cops. With most of the police force and criminal underbelly out to get her, Alicia must find a place to hide and upload the footage before the whole system is erased.

Is it any good?

Alicia West is a character who deserves a franchise: a toughie who rises above underprivileged origins to become a champion of justice. Playing a former solider-turned-cop, Harris offers an authentic intensity; through her eyes, viewers see that all of our actions matter, whether it's cops taking a candy bar from a market without paying, a mom not being present for her 10-year-old, or a gangster recognizing when he's made a mistake. Tyrese Gibson plays Alicia's reluctant accomplice with an emotional accessibility that allows viewers to feel the challenges of being a Black man trying to live an honest life in a crime-ridden town.

Black and Blue's suspense is intense, and the action is riveting, but, at its core, this is a street justice film. The movie gives voice to those who are painfully familiar with racial profiling -- and the shame and frustration that come from feeling like you're always under suspicion just because of where you live. It flips the power dynamic by putting cops on the same immoral level as assault weapon-toting drug dealers and then elevates the audience's opinion of the criminals. In a scene in which a gang leader and a dirty detective tussle over a gun, you'll likely find yourself rooting for the former, even though he was just threatening to kill the main characters. Black and Blue offers validation to viewers who are weary of racial injustice. Just be careful not to miss the movie's message: that the lack of trust, empathy, and decency toward one another is tearing us apart.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss the role that race plays in law enforcement action and attitudes. What can be done to counteract institutional bias toward people of color or those who live in impoverished areas?

  • What techniques do the filmmakers use to make an intimidating drug dealer a sympathetic character? Are you OK with that? Why do you think police corruption is a favorite subject of filmmakers?

  • How realistic is Black and Blue's violence? What techniques do filmmakers use to create realistic violence as opposed to fantasy violence? Which has greater impact?

  • How does Alicia West demonstrate courage, perseverance, empathy, and integrity? Why are those important character strengths? Why is she a role model? Why is positive gender and racial representation important?

Movie details

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