‘Body Cam’ Movie Review: Mary J. Blige Cop Drama Is Hard to Watch
Real life controversies surrounding police body cameras make it a relevant topic for movies. Last year’s Black and Blue was a suspenseful thriller about a police officer trying to do the right thing with hers. Casting Mary J. Blige in Body Cam raises its profile too.
Turning a body camera into a horror movie is an unexpected twist. That’s how Body Cam approaches the subject, and it is available on VOD now.
Mary J. Blige in ‘Body Cam’
Renee (Blige) is returning to duty after an incident where her body cam caught her lashing out at a suspect. She was grieving her son’s death but she wants to get back to work. When Renee and Danny (Nat Wolff) respond to a crime scene, they see teeth on the road and Officer Ganning (Ian Casselberry) missing.
Renee watches Ganning’s body cam footage. It’s so jittery, on top of it being a rainy night and obscured vision, that it’s hard to tell what exactly is on the footage. Of course, if it were clear footage, there’d be no mystery for Renee to solve. Adding to the mystery is the fact that the police department claims they could not retrieve the footage at all, but Renee definitely saw it.
‘Body Cam’ is literally hard to watch
Most of Body Cam takes place at night. That’s Renee’s beat, and even when it’s not raining, it really is nighttime. There is very little light and low visibility. Then Renee and Danny go investigating a house with no electricity so they only have their flashbacks.
The viewer can feel how the cops have to make judgement calls on instinct when they can’t really see what’s in front of them. However, it makes it hard to even make out what is going on in the movie. The supernatural element only makes it more visually confusing.
Mary J. Blige can’t sell ‘Body Cam’
Blige is believable as a seasoned officer and one traumatized by violence on the job and tragedy in her personal life. Unfortunately, Body Cam doesn’t offer her much to explore.
If you’ve seen a ghost movie before you see where this is going. Spirits usually all have the same agenda. The success or failure of a haunting story is how interesting the investigation is or the circumstances of the spirit’s passing are. Body Cam is really slow and boring as Renee very gradually pieces things together.
Applying the ghost story formula to police body cams doesn’t bring anything new and runs the risk of trivializing real police issues. When real body cams are catching real-life violence in the act, people may not want to see a fictional ghost story play out in this format. There is some Fangoria-worthy gore. Teeth on the road is disturbing, but the finale goes way further.
If you’re looking for something new to watch, there are still better options than Body Cam. Blige plays it real but the premise may be misguided and the execution doesn’t elevate it into something better.