Sunday, October 3, 2010

Brooklyn's Finest. B

You can pretty much go in any direction when critiquing Antoine Fuqua's latest, Brooklyn's Finest. It can be called a good cop movie, a so-so cop movie, a frustrating cop movie, or a complete disaster. The thing is, there's so many cop movies out there that one can easily fall into the trap of the denying this film's qualities by comparing it to other, better members of the genre. Or you can look at it from a completely individual standpoint, judging it not by comparisons, but by the films own strengths and weaknesses. And when you do that, I think the movie stands up nicely as a solid cop picture, definitely not as strong as something like The French Connection, but not too far below, say, New Jack City. Ironically, that movie featured Wesley Snipes as a drug lord, and here he plays a similar role in his first big-screen appearance in quite a while. I personally thought Snipes gave the film's best performance, but the focus on him is really overlooked by three characters, all cops, who's struggles lead them all to the same crime scene in a bloody, unfortunate conclusion. The cops are played by Richard Gere, who's trying to make it through his final week with the NYPD, Don Cheadle, who's long stint as an under-cover cop make him wonder where his loyalties truly lie, and Ethan Hawke, who'll do anything to get a better life for his family. The acting here is intense, and since these are all great actors on display, all the performances work really well. Also, the story is interesting and the themes are worthy of a some sort of discussion. The real problem I had with it was that the characters were too obvious and the movie too often hit us over the head with dramatic tension that could have been handled more realistically. Also, the script is pale next to the rich screenplays that helped drive the classic cop films to glory. Ah, but here I am comparing. As it it is, Brooklyn's Finest is brutal and a worthy entry into the lower echelon of cop movies.

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