Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson want 'Black and Blue' viewers to be reinspired

By Fred Topel
Naomie Harris stars in "Black and Blue," in theaters Friday. File Photo by Rune Hellestad/ UPI
1 of 5 | Naomie Harris stars in "Black and Blue," in theaters Friday. File Photo by Rune Hellestad/ UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Naomie Harris and Tyrese Gibson's new movie Black and Blue is an action thriller about police violence. The actors and director Deon Taylor aren't coy about their intentions to make a message movie that provokes real-world change.

"The movie is saying 'be the change' and encouraging everybody to stand up for what they believe in," Harris said in a recent conference call with reporters. "Stand up against injustice, stand up against corruption. I think that is just a beautifully inspired message that everybody needs right now."


Alisha West (Harris) is a good cop in New Orleans. When she witnesses her partner (James Moses Black) involved in the shooting of an informant, she captures it on her body camera. On the run from both her partners and a public that doesn't trust the police, West can only turn to Milo Jackson (Gibson), a shopkeeper she used to know.


"We all have had the moments where we've been pulled over the car and we're like, 'Damn, I don't know where this is going to go with the cop,'" Taylor said. "I have been pulled out at gunpoint."

Gibson, who is filming Fast & Furious 9, said he likes to balance his blockbuster movies with edgier films.

"I pride myself on finding that balance between big box office movies with CG [computer generated] and special effects, and then I love to get gritty and dirty and do stuff that's not a big payday," Gibson said. "It's a real opportunity to be a part of something to create a shift."

The filmmakers hope following West's journey to the conclusion of Black and Blue will create that shift after audiences leave the theater.

"I hope people are reinspired to realize that they have much more power than they think that they do to make a difference," Harris said. "It happens at an individual level first, and then we join communities and create a sea of change which is so powerful that nothing can stop it."

Gibson was apprehensive that making a movie with a message would bore the audience. He's confident Black and Blue is an entertaining thriller first, but one that people will talk about.


"It's not preachy, but when you walk away from this movie, there's going to be a lot of real conversations that happen on the way home," Gibson said. "If you're in the military, if you're a fireman, if you're in the police department, if you're doing anything where you actually have a career that's tied into taxpayers' dollars and you take the oath to do the right thing, why is it so OK to do the wrong thing?"

With the advent of social media, the public sees more and more examples of police violence in the real world. Gibson said that climate makes Black and Blue relevant.

"All I've got to do is go on my timeline and there's a brand new clip that ties into our movie that's just happened that went viral," Gibson said. "Every single day, there's something that's happening."

Harris suggested the next step after people see Black and Blue would be to facilitate conversations between the public and authorities.

"The first thing is that the dialogue needs to start," Harris said. "There needs to be some forum, some space in which dialogues can actually start so that we finally can hear each other. I've watched a level of brutality happening by the police against civilians. That 100 percent needs to stop, and the only way you do that is by communicating."


Police officers were involved with the making of Black and Blue, as a show of support for the movie.

"Our entire set was protected and secured by local New Orleans Police Department," Gibson said. "We didn't use movie security. We used off-duty and current on-duty police officers. They actually want to do the right thing and speak up on abuse or speak up on abuse in power."

Taylor spent 4 1/2 months in New Orleans prepping Black and Blue. He toured police precincts and went on ride-alongs with officers. He spoke to some who resisted the introduction of body cameras and incorporated what he learned into the film.

"Ultimately, one of the biggest moments in the movie is Naomie Harris's character is wearing a body camera and her leading officer does not wear one," Taylor said. "That's because I learned that in New Orleans, a lot of the older guys refuse to wear the body cams."

As important as Gibson found the message of Black and Blue, he ultimately felt some of the film's most powerful moments didn't need dialogue.

"It's the way we look at each other," he said. "It's the way you can tell that we are making decisions that could cost us our life if we do the wrong thing."


Black and Blue is in theaters Friday.

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