James Jay Edwards

Equal Standard Doesn’t Quite Live Up to Its Powerful Potential

(Equal Standard, courtesy Mutiny Pictures)

James Jay Edwards reviews Equal Standard, a film directed by Brendan Kyle Cochrane, script by Taheim Bryan, starring Tobias Truvillion and Ice-T. (Mutiny Pictures


With police shootings being a practically daily occurrence, it seems the last thing we need is a movie like Equal Standard. But here we are.

Equal Standard is about a Black undercover detective named Chris Jones (Tobias Truvillion from Empire) in New York who winds up in an argument with a white uniformed NYPD officer. The street cop doesn’t believe that Jones is a fellow officer, and upon seeing his sidearm, shoots him. Jones returns fire and the other officer is killed. With the city still reeling from a different racially motivated police shooting, this new development puts the community on edge.


(Equal Standard, theatrical release poster, courtesy Mutiny Pictures)

With a central concept that is seemingly ripped from today’s headlines, Equal Standard was directed by Brendan Kyle Cochrane from a script by Taheim Bryan. It’s a heavy story about race, class, and privilege, but the movie’s treatment of it is, unfortunately, watered down and lightweight. By making the victim of the shooting a fellow police officer, Equal Standard diffuses the powder keg. What could have been an explosive movie winds up just fizzling out.

The community in Equal Standard is just as on-edge as the real-life communities that it portrays. POC are worried just walking down the street, police walk around with implied immunity, and everyone is just waiting for the next big incident. And the narrative is provided from many different viewpoints—the affected police officers, the families of both the accused and the victim, the concerned citizens, the police internal affairs investigators, even the street gangs (who put aside their differences to concentrate on their “common enemy”), everyone gets some screen time. But all of these viewpoints just add up to a whole lot of relaxed conversation that doesn’t really go anywhere.


(Equal Standard, courtesy Mutiny Pictures)

Even though it’s mostly talk, there is nothing subtle about Equal Standard, and that’s part of the problem. The dialogue is too heavy handed to be effective. At one point, Detective Jones’ daughter asks him point blank, “Daddy, do cops hate Black people?” Jones’ wife also works for the NYPD, so essentially this little girl is asking her (Black) parents if cops hate her. It’s an incredibly on-the-nose moment that waltzes in disguised as the girl’s wide-eyed innocence. And it’s eye-rolling.

It should be noted that Equal Standard does gain some street credibility with the inclusion of rappers Ice-T and Anthony “Treach” Criss (from Naughty by Nature) as both producers and in small acting roles. Their appearances are little more than tokens, and neither adds any real weight to the movie itself, but they do provide a little bit of authenticity to the proceedings. They’re mostly there for name recognition and star power, though.


(Equal Standard, courtesy Mutiny Pictures)

The message behind Equal Standard is sound. Its heart is in the right place. And it has the potential to be a very powerful and important film. It just never gets around to fully realizing that potential. The world needs more movies like Equal Standard. It just needs them to also be better than Equal Standard.



Check out the podcast Eye On Horror for more with James Jay Edwards, and also features Jonathan Correia and Jacob Davison.


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