Deon Taylor has had one heck of a year. It's hard enough to get any movie made, but the director has had The Intruder, which went on to become something of a lowkey hit, arrive earlier this year and now, he's got Black and Blue. Having two major studio releases come out in the same year is no small thing. And Taylor delivered two very different flicks. For his latest, he's stepped into the world of gritty cop thrillers, with a cast led by Naomie Harris and Tyrese Gibson.
Black and Blue centers on a rookie cop (Naomie Harris) who unwittingly captures the murder of a young drug dealer via her body cam. Upon discovering that the murder was committed by crooked cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Tyrese Gibson). She must try and make her escape as both the criminals out for revenge and the cops who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage attempt to stop her.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Deon Taylor recently in honor of the movie's release, and he was truly fired up about it. We discussed his big year, his new movie and more.
Based on what I've seen, I kind of got some Training Day vibes.
Deon Taylor: I love it. That's exactly right. Love it. Talk to me, Ryan. Talk to me.
Great. Off to a good start. But what would you say, for you, are the touchstones for the movie? Did you have any movies that you looked to for inspiration for this?
Deon Taylor: Yes. So obviously, when making a film of this nature you have to do these types of movies, right? And Training Day, Antoine Fuqua's Training Day was absolutely at the top of my mind. I thought that was incredible. And not because of what he did, cinematically. What I loved about the movie is that it was a movie that actually dealt with the culture. And the other movie that I really leaned into was Sicario. I really love the action, the sequencing and storyline in Sicario. So we were actually into that film. Obviously, Black and Blue is a completely different animal than those two films, but they all live in the same zeitgeist.
I'll tell you, man, I'm going to say it right now. You could get mad at me, Ryan. You could be like, "Deon, you are crazy." This is the movie of the year, period. It's not often that we get a film that actually is entertaining, thrilling, makes you cover your eyes, makes you throw your bucket of popcorn down, and all during that time you get to get an incredible message about something that actually resonates with us as people, Black and Blue is that movie, and it's incredible. It's basically, Naomie Harris, who is just brilliant. She's coming off of an Oscar nomination for Moonlight. She's just finishing doing James Bond [No Time to Die], and I was so blessed to be here to get her to do this film. I can't even tell you, man, and she comes into this movie as she delivers something that's effortless and it's incredible, and you will be blown away.
You mentioned you mentioned Naomi, of course. But then you've also Mike Colter. You got Tyrese. You got Frank Grillo.
Deon Taylor: Frank Grillo. Are you kidding me? Like, are you kidding? Frank Grillo, if you don't know this guy, go watch all of his movies. The cast is incredible and obviously being able to take Tyrese Gibson, and we're taking him from the Fast and Furious franchise and drop him into this. That was a special moment for me. A lot of people tend to forget Tyreese was handpicked by John Singleton [for Baby Boy], one of the greatest ever to pick up a camera. I told Tyrese when we got ready to shoot the movie. I said, "Man, I need that type of performance in this movie." And when I tell you, Tyrese and Naomie Harris, were actually really gonna be pushing both of these people for Oscar nominations. Naomie Harris, especially her performance in this movie is, it's insane and I'll give you a little fun fact. It is the first movie in cinematic history to have African American female play a police officer. There's a lot of weight around the movie in terms of like, why you need to go see it. Obviously this is special and with everything that's going on politically right now in the culture, you obviously don't make a film to land at that at these times. But when you actually have a movie that actually says something to what's going on and says the right type of message, which is be the change, then you have something that's golden.
You mentioned it's an important movie. Yes, totally. But it also strikes me as the kind of movie we don't see that much anymore, and I mean that in like the 90s action thriller. Would you say that's a fair comparison?
Deon Taylor: When we say we don't see them anymore, I take that as meaning that we don't really have any films that say anything anymore, right? And normally what happens is the movies that do have something to say, they're very arthouse. They're very art-driven, where mass audiences don't see them. This movie is a cross between... like what did Rambo have to say during the time it was released? Although you went and you watched that film in 1985, whatever it was, and you cheered, you yelled, and everyone wanted to get the Rambo knife. That movie actually had a real message, and I feel like, not drawing a comparison to Rambo to Black and Blue because it's not anything like that. But when you have something to say in an action/thriller that's rare.
Now you know me, and Black and Blue actually says something, and it's not beating you over the head. It's not a preachy movie. I was reading some stuff. Somebody wouldn't do the same or, we're not there to say more. We're there to actually present something, say something and let people be entertained and let them take the message out of the theater and talk to their friends about what they've seen and how they took that in. And like I said, what's great about the film is be the change. Naomie Harris in the film realizes she cannot change the entire police force. She realizes she cannot change the entire community. But what she can change is herself. And what she can do is become change. And from that, that rubs off on one of the people, the Tyrese character. And it's just it is insane. What you're going to see on screen is great.
I know we're kind of running out of time here, but just real quick since you had a big year, you had two movies come out this year. What's next for you? What you got coming up, man?
Deon Taylor: Man, two. Are you kidding me? You know what a fair right out that I don't know, man. I am a self-taught filmmaker. And to hear you say yeah, two movies this year is pretty crazy. Yes, a blessing, man. I'm only here because of faith, but yeah, next year, man, I have a really, really fun thriller at the end of the year called Fatale with Hilary Swank and Michael Ealy. And this one is, I made this film specifically for people to actually scream in the theater, run out. So it's gonna be a good one.
Thank you so much, Deon. Congratulations on everything.
Deon Taylor: thank you so much. Make sure October 25th, Black And Blue. We need everybody to go to support this film!
Black and Blue is in theaters now from Sony Pictures.