Small Axe: Red, White and Blue

Chapter 3 of Steve McQueen’s series is something you need to see.

John Boyega, who won the world over with his Finn character in the recent “Star Wars” sequels, is the star of “Red, White and Blue,” the next chapter of Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” series. Seeing him portraying a cop in the 80s time period, reminds me of his role in”Detroit,” even though it was set in 1967. As a matter of fact, this is, without a doubt, his best non-Finn performance of his career, because he ignites the screen with fury and ambition.

He plays the real-life figure Leroy Logan, a research scientist, whose father Ken (Steve Toussaint) was assaulted by white cops, and is looking to sue them in court. After being denied an opportunity to open the case, he decides to join the London Metropolitan Police in order to try to end its racism. At first, his family is peeved at his choice, given the circumstances, but they still wish him goodbye, and he graduates from police training.

Unfortunately, other African-Brits see Leroy as a traitor to their people, and that goes for his Urdu friend on the force Asif (Assad Zaman). His side isn’t given much pay-off, but this movie isn’t about him, it’s about Leroy and his transition on the force.

And what’s more in new job is that he’s not given equal treatment in the precinct.

For example, when he calls for back-up while pursuing a criminal who beats him, none of the white officers show up. In the break room, he ruins their pool game, yelling at them for why they didn’t back him up. You can pretty much guess they’re racists, and you, the viewers, are infuriated at them.

I have two more “Small Axe” entries to see, and already, I’m dazzled and utterly amazed at how Steve McQueen draws the characters with a certain complexion and a certain amount of dialogue and poetry. “Red, White and Blue” is explosively entertaining with how Boyega eases into the real-life figure, and how his world is affected by the modern racism. He wants to make it a better place, and he must overcome the hate and cynicism around him. And Toussaint provides some powerful supporting work as his dad, who tells him to never let the system destroy him, and how he makes his choices in life.

Running for 80 minutes, it allows the story to shake things up, and remind us about fighting a broken system with less protests and violence, and more about fixing it on the inside. At least that’s what Leroy wanted to do. Listening to the dialogue and seeing the situations in London makes it clear that McQueen has the filmmaking style and creativity, thus making him one of the best giants. He never lets his guard down, and he knows how to reel you in.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Categories: Drama, Series

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