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film review

Ronnie Rowe Jr. plays a nameless police officer working in a nameless East Coast Canadian city.miketompkins.net

  • Written and directed by: Cory Bowles
  • Starring: Ronnie Rowe Jr.
  • Classification: 14A; 91 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

Tilting between social satire and pitch-black drama with unnerving ease, Cory Bowles’s feature debut Black Cop is an intriguing high-wire act.

Following a nameless police officer (Ronnie Rowe Jr., credited only as “Black Cop”) patrolling a nameless East Coast Canadian city, the drama consistently swerves in unexpected directions. Once the title character experiences a moment of racial prejudice from fellow (but white) officers, he – and Bowles’s story – dives into a political experiment of sorts, treating white residents with the same levels of hostility and paranoia that people of colour are subjected to each and every day. But there are no clear-cut answers in either our ostensible hero’s actions, or Bowles’s script – we’re left to sort through the mess like any other civilian subject to the overwhelming powers of the thin blue line.

Rowe Jr. does strong work with an underwritten role, which helps compensate for Bowles’s somewhat impatient shooting style – we’re treated to body-cam footage, dash-cam shots, first-person point-of-view shaky-cams, and cellphone clips, all while talk-radio nonsense occasionally pollutes the soundtrack. It recalls something a young Oliver Stone might have tried were he struck with an extremely low budget and today’s technology.

But Black Cop isn’t meant to be a beautiful film, only a complicated one.

Black Cop opens June 1 at select Cineplex theatres across Canada, followed by a video-on-demand release.