Review by Dan Skip Allen
Red, White and Blue is the third film in the Small Axe series from acclaimed writer/director Steve McQueen. All of these films are based on the West Indies community-based in London, England. They are all slice of life stories set in a tough period for these people in London and history. They are rarely if ever featured in films these days. It's nice to see McQueen focus his lens on an underrepresented part of life.
Red, White and Blue focus on the police in London at this time in history. The police have been a part of a previous film in the series, Mangrove, but this film sheds light on the entire department as a whole. Leroy Logan (John Boyega) witnesses some gross negligence from the Metropolitan Police. They beat up his father. This motivates him to join the police and try to change their mindset from within.
He grew up in a strict but loving family. His father was a hard worker and that mindset rubbed off on Leroy, especially once he joined the police force. Leroy grew up with good values. He wanted to be an example for all the other kids growing up in London like him. Despite what society at the time wanted.
Boyega gives a very solid performance in this film. His role in the cult classic Attack the Block got him noticed, but being cast as Finn in the Star Wars sequel trilogy launched him into the stratosphere. Roles in Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit and Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim have kept his name in the public consciousness of people around the world. This role might arguably be the most satisfying for him to portray because of the character and subject matter.
The film is set in a country that has problems with its police and the country's disdain for them is widely known. McQueen was able to tell Leroy Logan's story, but also have it have cultural relevance in today's society. Even though it takes place in an entirely different country, it shows that the United States isn't the only country dealing with racial prejudices among the police forces of the world.
This story taps into the genes of the past films but goes off on its own. Telling difficult stories isn't always easy. McQueen gracefully tackles these stories of the West Indies community. He has picked stories that represent these communities and their people perfectly. Boyega gives a solid performance as this man trying to swim upstream in a flood. He is very effective in this leading role.
Red, White and Blue is now streaming on Amazon Prime. New installments of Small Axe stream every Friday.