Steve McQueen directs John Boyega, Steve Toussaint and Neil Maskell in this true story recreation of black British police constable Leroy Logan’s induction into the Metropolitan police in the 1980s.
I’m going to be a curmudgeon and say this is the first of the Small Axe series of films to feel more like television. With the exception of a paranoid one-shot steadicam pursuit through an industrial estate, this could be the anonymous work of a television journeyman prepping a pilot for a new series. Beyond Boyega (excellent as always) and Toussaint, the acting isn’t as universally accomplished as the first two movies either. McQueen settles on a very narrow arc… Logan realising his father’s combative and inflexible attitude towards the white police force as a racist oppressor is accurate. You can’t win over the Beast; not by being its equal or being its better, being its friend or playing its game. Much like being working class, the higher ups have rigged the rules. The Dirty Babylon is intractable. Watching that grind weaken a bright young man with such procedural successiveness is a flat, sobering watch. Maybe McQueen has intentionally, almost satirically, given this story the visual and texture of an episode of The Bill or Juliet Bravo but I kind of feel Leroy Logan and Boyega deserve a more expansive mode.
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