Star Wars actor John Boyega has been praised for his performance in new Steve McQueen film Red, White and Blue, with reviews calling him "staggering" and "superhuman".
Red, White and Blue is one of five films that makes up 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen's BBC anthology drama series Small Axe, which tells stories from within London's West Indian community between the 1960s and 1980s.
Red, White and Blue is the true story of Leroy Logan (Boyega), a Black British man who left his career in research science to become a police officer in the Metropolitan Police, hoping to change the institution from the inside. He aces his training but faces discrimination from other officers once on the force.
His decision to join the police also creates tension with his father Kenneth (Steve Toussaint), who has been hassled by the police and even beaten up by racist officers.
The real-life Leroy Logan received an MBE in 2001 for his work in developing anti-racist policies for the police. He served in the police for 30 years and is also a former chair of the Black Police Association Charitable Trust.
Red, White and Blue has received praise in its first reviews after it premiered at the New York Film Festival, and Boyega in particular has been singled out for his powerful performance as Leroy.
Check out a selection of reviews below:
"Boyega takes his career to the next level with a heroic and even tragic portrayal of Logan. For me, it's a performance comparable to Al Pacino in Serpico... Boyega carries the film with a compelling authority of his own."
"McQueen's gripping true-life drama compensates for some of its more heavy-handed beats thanks to Boyega's staggering, career-best performance and the fiery tone that surrounds it at every turn. The movie is both a ferocious indictment and a call to action that embodies Logan's cause, even if it's doomed from the start...
"It feels like all the sophisticated layers the actor had to suppress for three Star Wars unleashed at once. McQueen even dares to wink at those credits when Leroy tells a friend he’s joining the force. 'You gonna be a Jedi or something?' he's told."
"Red, White and Blue comes on strong, built around the forceful hum given off by John Boyega, in a role that demonstrates his pensive power as an actor...
"At the end, when Leroy sits in the kitchen drinking with his father, and they brood over how the wheel of change turns with agonising slowness, Leroy says that there are times when he wishes they could just scorch the earth and start over. Red, White and Blue refuses us the comfort of triumph. It's caught in the moment we're in, when hope waltzes with despair and the only thing that's real is the struggle."
"Boyega is superhuman here. Because no matter the decade, Logan isn't an easy character to understand with regards to decision making. Yet Boyega's sincerity holds us in this story, even when we can't fully understand the why behind Logan. How does one join the very people who almost killed their father?
"McQueen provides no easy answers, or more accurately the clear-eyed repudiation of policing the audience might crave. Logan never gives up his beliefs that he can change the system from within. Nor does he give way to catharsis. In this sense, Red, White and Blue is the most subdued of the ... films. It's the bitter, slow realisation by Logan of his solitude in this institution."
"Red, White and Blue, at a short, sharp, 78 minutes long, is a gripping character portrait of the real-life former Metropolitan Police superintendent Leroy Logan, who joined the force to tackle racism from within and is here played by the fearsomely charismatic Star Wars actor John Boyega at his most commanding. On the screen for almost every scene, Boyega plays Logan variously with simmering restraint, with wide-eyed naivety and with brief moments of fulminating rage."
Small Axe will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in November, with the films airing first in the UK.
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