Saturday, March 13, 2010

BROOKLYN'S FINEST (2010)

Written by Michael C. Martin


Directed by Antoine Fuqua



Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. March 9, 2010 4:30PM



"Training Day" (2001) was one of Antoine Fuqua's biggest successes and he now returns to the dark world of ambiguous cops and the gritty streets they work on. This time, instead of sunny Los Angeles, we are now in the borough of Brooklyn. We follow the lives of three police officers as they are struggle to handle the pressures of their jobs and try to stay on the right side of the law.

Detective Sal Procida (Ethan Hawke) has a large family and his wife (Lili Taylor) is expecting twins. They are barely getting by and now there are going to be more mouths to feed. His wife is also having complications with her asthma because of mold in their home and he has to come up with the money to put a down payment on a new, larger house. Desperate for a solution, Sal decides to kill and rob drug dealers for the cash but he is a God-fearing man, so he is conflicted.

Richard Gere plays Officer Eddie Dugan who is about to retire in a week after over twenty years on the job. Depressed, burnt out and not well respected by his fellow officers, Eddie needs to have a shot of whiskey first thing in the morning just to get going. He is assigned to training rookie officers for his last week on the job. He advises them not to get involved and to do so only if they have to. This doesn't leave much of an impression with the rookies. Eddie's way to relieve stress is to visit his local hooker (Shannon Kane) who appears to be the closest thing he has to a stable relationship.

Detective Clarence "Tango" Butler (Don Cheadle) has been undercover for years, involved in the drug trade. This assignment has cost him his marriage, blurred his loyalties and now he wants out. He has been promised a promotion and a desk job for awhile but he is still waiting. He is finally offered the promotion but he will have to set up a drug deal that involves Caz, (Wesley Snipes) a criminal who has recently been released from federal prison. The problem is that Caz had saved Tango's life while he was undercover in prison and he feels he owes him. Tango is torn between helping himself or helping someone, despite his criminal past, who has been a good friend to him.

These three characters pass each other briefly throughout the film and then they come together indirectly in the bloody and deadly conclusion. Since this is a cops and robbers story, it should be no surprise that there are guns and violence but be warned that this film is intense and ultra-violent.

This is a great cast and it is good to see the return of Mr. Snipes in a major motion picture. Mr. Fuqua manages to get some solid performances from all of them and we are treated to nice cameo appearances from Vincent D'Onofrio, Will Patton, Lela Rochon (the director's wife), and a very welcome return to the screen from Ellen Barkin as a ball-busting Federal agent. The script from Mr. Martin has some smart and clever dialogue in between the basic cop drama story.

"Brooklyn's Finest" is well made and entertaining but one thing it is not is fresh. You have seen these characters and situations way too many times in film and television which makes it difficult to watch this and not feel a sense of familiarity and predictability. Despite this, if you like police dramas, this film is slightly above average and worth seeing.