Film Review – Small Axe: Red, White and Blue (2020)

Title – Small Axe: Red, White and Blue (2020)

Director – Steve McQueen (Shame)

Cast – John Boyega, Steve Toussaint, Joy Richardson

Plot – Inspired by the true life story of black British police officer Leroy Logan (Boyega) who joined the force in hope of igniting a change in an organization that at the time was crawling with racism and brutality.

“Something good will come of it” 

Review by Eddie on 01/02/2021

The third official entry into Steve McQueen’s BBC/Amazon backed Small Axe five part series of feature length narratives, Red, White and Blue is a more formulaic event than preceding courtroom drama Mangrove and the extremely experimental Lovers Rock but its still an above average TV release that gives Star Wars great underused talent John Boyega a time to shine in the spotlight.

Based around the true life experiences of British born West Indian Leroy Logan who joined the police force to help promote change in a racially vilified climate, that included an assault on his religious father Ken, Blue is a familiar police drama that never extends the roots of its basing as it follows Boyega’s movements from lab worker to upstart police constable who faces dangers and threats from the outside and as well as the inside.

Taking place across a brief 80 minute runtime, we don’t get to spend too much time with Leroy and his family and friends but as usual McQueen is well in tune with the humans at the center of his tales and Leroy makes for a likable lead that stems from Boyega’s naturally charismatic manner and getting to see the performer play with more meaty material than his been given in the past is a joy to behold and as Leroy’s patience wears thin with his racist colleagues and stresses of everyday life in a racist community, Boyega gets to explore sides of his acting ability we have rarely seen in what’s easily his most fully rounded performance to date.

Leroy is the type of character and Blue the type of film that deserved and would’ve likely been able to give a lot to viewers from across the globe had there been more screen time allotted to the journey at the heart of this tale and there does feel as though there was more too explore as the film builds to a certain moment and sentiment only too then end with a sense an extra 30 – 40 minutes could’ve helped round off the tale of a man up against the odds.

Throughout the film there is still ample moments of grace and thrills, a chase through a factory and some intense standoffs between Leroy and his colleagues are as good of examples of cinematic quality that you will see this year and these elements ensure Blue is a high-class production that is worth tracking down.

Final Say – 

A typically assured but less surprising Steve McQueen film that had more too explore if it had so wanted to, Red, White and Blue is a solid racially infused police drama with a great central turn from its underrated lead performer.

3 1/2 fish and chip vans out of 5  

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