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Small Axe: Red, White and Blue Review

Red, White and Blue marks the third instalment in acclaimed director Steve McQueen’s pioneering Small Axe anthology. Following the musicality and atmosphere of Lovers Rock, McQueen once again explores the systemic racism in the British police force, as portrayed in series opener Mangrove. With his emotional and impassioned speech at the London Black Lives Matter protest, John Boyega makes for the perfect choice to bring MBE Leroy Logan’s ground breaking career to life.

Based on the monumental real-life story, Red, White and Blue centres on young forensic scientist Leroy Logan (John Boyega). Following a brutal assault on his father by two policemen, Leroy actively chose to apply for the Metropolitan Police in order to help bring change from within. His resolve and determination, much to the frustration of his parents and community, led to him becoming one of the first black officers to join the service back in 1983.

John Boyega as Leroy in Steve McQueen’s Red White and Blue

Opening with a young Leroy shockingly being harassed by two police officers outside of his school, McQueen doesn’t shy away from quickly establishing the racial profiling so rampant in 80s London. While Mangrove focuses on the collective trial of the seven through gripping courtroom drama, Red, White and Blue is a much more introspective delve into one man’s struggle to change institutional racism from within. 

Joining the force as part of a black recruitment drive, Leroy quickly rises within the ranks, but finds himself alienated and belittled by both his community and co-workers. His strength, resilience and drive to stand for proper representation in the force helped him endure the discrimination and abuse he routinely faced.

Marking Boyega’s latest performance since speaking out about his experiences working on the latest Star Wars saga, Red, White and Blue proves just how criminally underused the London actor was in the franchise. He is effortlessly charismatic and hugely compelling as Logan, exuding a true grit and determination to succeed against all odds. In a thrilling action scene, Boyega heroically leaps into frame to apprehend a suspect who just minutes ago brutally attacked him, proving just why fans would like to see him as the new Bond. 

His dynamic with co-star and onscreen father Steve Toussaint is also outstanding, perfectly capturing the complicated and conflicting, yet deeply emotional, relationship. In one standout scene, we experience the two sharing a long overdue embrace as his father’s friction over his decision to join the force is replaced by pride, as an outsider observing from inside their car. 

Verdict

Steve McQueen masterfully brings to life another monumental moment in Black British History in Red, White and Blue, thanks in part to an affecting and impassioned performance by John Boyega – cementing his magnetic screen presence.

Rating:

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