Last week saw the opening episode US crime series, Shades Of Blue, starring Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta. I missed it because I got the dates mixed up (d’oh!), so I asked crime novelist Mark Hill for his opinion on it.
So, look, let’s be clear up front. If you’re looking for ground-breaking genre thrills, something that pushes a well-trodden formula to new levels of creative invention, then maybe Shades Of Blue ain’t for you. It’s a greatest hits compilation of just about every corrupt cop drama you’ve ever seen. But if you temper your expectations and let the clichés roll wash gently over you, it’s a perfectly pleasant and way to spend an hour.
Jennifer Lopez is the streetwise kickboxing struggling single mother cop. She just wants the best for her daughter, but you know how it is – it’s near-on impossible making ends meet in New York City on a cop’s wages. So she and her colleagues in Ray Liotta’s squad of detectives strong-arm local crims for a piece of whatever action’s going down on the streets. It’s a win-win: the detectives get kickbacks and the criminal element tows the line. But then Lopez’s character Harlee is caught in an FBI sting. Disaster – she’ll go to jail and her daughter’s life will be ruined. So she agrees to take down her colleagues and gets wired up.
Shades Of Blue is slick, entertaining stuff. But the déjà vu moments come hard and fast. The tight-knit police crew retire to an NY Irish Bar to down shots and count their wad; FBI vehicles screech in every which way to take down Harlee; Liotta’s Wozniak coolly delivers some punk to be killed.
It’s not Line Of Duty, and it certainly ain’t no The Shield, but there are welcome shades of Alias in this twisty story of a woman deep undercover in a corrupt system. It’s pacy network entertainment, anchored by a sympathetic turn by J-Lo and another enjoyable performance of simmering sociopathy from Liotta.
Shades Of Blue has already been renewed for a second season. I’m making the call – I’m in for the duration.
Mark Hill’s debut crime novel, The Two O’Clock Boy, is released on 17th November, 2016. You can visit his website here.