John Boyega’s Historical Drama on Amazon Prime Is a Must-Watch, Here’s Why

*Warning: Minor spoilers ahead*

After breezing through Lovers Rock and being rendered speechless by the performances in Mangrove, I had a strong feeling that visionary director Steve McQueen’s third Small Axe film, Red, White and Blue, would be nothing short of spectacular. And fortunately, my prediction was spot-on. (For those who are unfamiliar with the anthology, Small Axe is a collection of five standalone films that offer insight into the experience of the Black community in Britain.)

Based on a true story, Amazon Prime’s Red, White and Blue takes place in London and follows Leroy Logan (John Boyega), a Black British forensic scientist who joins the London Metropolitan Police after his father is assaulted by two racist officers. Throughout the film, we see the many challenges of his career transition, from the bigotry of his fellow officers to the disapproval of those in his own community.

The biopic, which earned Boyega a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, is a pretty sharp turn from the feel-good romance that precedes it in the anthology. Still, Red, White and Blue feels timely, considering America’s ongoing history of racial tensions and police violence. As seen in the film, racist U.K. officers used excessive force with people in the Black community during the ‘80s, and it’s not that different from what we’ve been seeing in the U.S. for several years. Violent police recordings have led to public scrutiny and now, after the murder of George Floyd, there are calls to defund the police.

Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray and others came to mind as I watched the movie’s events unfold. But despite my feelings of rage at the unfairness of it all, seeing Leroy’s fierce determination to bring about change from within actually made me feel a tinge of hope.

Keep reading to see why this historical drama is required viewing.

1. It Highlights A Powerful Piece Of History That’s Rarely Ever Talked About

As mentioned, Red, White and Blue is inspired by the real-life story of Leroy Logan, a former superintendent at the Metropolitan Police and former Chair of the Black Police Association in the U.K. In 1983, he joined the police force in hopes of tackling racism from within and encouraging more officers of color to join. His enrollment wound up having a positive impact on police culture, and in 2000, he was awarded an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his contributions.

In an interview with Time magazine, Logan opened up about his experience when he first became an officer. He revealed, “Casual racism was terrible. You sort of felt, well, no wonder people don’t join the organization. It was a hostile environment. But I realized I just had to stand strong. I wasn’t going to let them grind me down.”

He added, “There was a sense of purpose, and I felt it was something I had to pursue, and if I didn’t, I would be in more torment.”

2. It Taps Into The Importance Of Family

It was fascinating to see how Leroy’s relationship with his father, Kenneth, shifted after he’d learned that his son would be joining the force. To offer some background, as portrayed in the film, Kenneth was beaten beyond recognition by racist cops during a traffic stop. While Kenneth felt hurt and betrayed by his son’s decision, Leroy also felt torn—although it didn’t prevent him from losing sight of the bigger picture.

The most compelling part is that Logan intentionally joins the force because of what happened to his father, even though it was incredibly painful for Kenneth. This caused a rift between the father-son duo, but fortunately for Leroy, we see that Kenneth eventually comes to respect his son’s decision, even though he may not fully understand it. I imagine his support is part of what kept Leroy going.

3. John Boyega’s Performance Is Phenomenal

You may recognize him from the Star Wars films or Pacific Rim Uprising, but this was actually my first time seeing Boyega in a film. Still, I had really high expectations, especially since McQueen’s other films were filled with such strong performances. And sure enough, Boyega did not disappoint.

Everything about Boyega’s performance is brilliant, from his heartbreaking outbursts to his subtle facial expressions. For example, in one scene, when Leroy sits at lunch and hears a few officers casually exchange racist comments, you can see him struggle to keep his cool, even though there’s rage building beneath the surface. And in another scene, when a Black kid refers to him as a “coconut,” we get a clear view of his thinly veiled discomfort as he tries to maintain professionalism. True acting at its finest.

4. That Ending Makes You Think, Like, Really Think

I won’t reveal the details, but I will say that the last scene is a cliffhanger, and one that’s rather unsettling. Instead of a cozy, feel-good ending that offers closure, viewers are left to contemplate serious questions and consider their relevance today. For instance, can one person really make a difference when they’re going up against a flawed system that’s built to destroy them? Is it so far-fetched to fight for change when it seems like the majority has no interest in doing the same? Is it worth it to create change through a controversial approach, when even the Black community starts to view you as an enemy?

These are the questions that lingered with me in that quiet last moment, but more importantly, it felt like a reminder that police reform is necessary—especially now. I imagine there are a number of Black officers who now share the same sentiments as Leroy did when he first joined the force, and that’s great. But as we’ve seen in several violent police recordings, we’ve still got a long way to go.

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nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...