"Brooklyn's Finest" Movie Review (2010)

3/06/2010 Posted by Admin

Movie Review

"Brooklyn's Finest"

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, Written by Michael C. Martin, 133 Minutes, Rated R

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

Director Antoine Fuqua made quite a splash in 2001 with his stark and violent crime drama "Training Day." The film had a clever plot and intriguing themes, but for the most part it succeeded due to the superb lead performances by Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, and Fuqua's mature and low-key direction. Watching "Brooklyn's Finest," it's hard to believe some of the same creative talents were involved with both films. Steeped in melodrama, cliche and unnecessary bloodbaths, "Finest" is more a showcase for what is truly great about its ensemble performers than any sort of profound or even extremely entertaining study of crime, violence, morality and the balancing act cops have to perform to enforce that morality.

The film follows three policemen in three interconnected stories--well, sort of interconnected, and in pretty shallow ways, really. Richard Gere is Eddie Dugan, an alcoholic and drugged-out veteran cop with just a week left on the job. He's completely lost interest in the purposes of his job and he's just going through the motions when he's assigned to spend a day with a trainee and gets more than he bargained for. Don Cheadle is "Tango" Butler, a cop who has just been released from three years of being undercover in prison and is conflicted when he is offered a high-paying detective job for turning in one of the men he befriended on the inside. Ethan Hawke is Sal Procida, a cop and father of three with twins on the way who is struggling to make ends meet for his family.

The three cross paths every so often, but the multiple storylines aren't really there for any specific purpose other than to basically tell the same story three times--in the long run, there's very little difference between them.

Initially, the film appears to have potential. As we're introduced to each character, their stories appear interesting and relatable, and the film's exploration of the occasional evil one must do for the sake of good seems a solid topic to cover, but it's not long before it becomes clear how little heart is in the writing or the direction. The characters dissolve into caricatures. The three leads often are good, as is most of the supporting cast (including Wesley Snipes as an intimidating and dangerous drug lord, and Vincent D'Onofrio in a brief cameo), but they're given too little to work with.

By the final act, it doesn't even appear as if Fuqua knows where he wants to go, and everything heads into a downward spiral of excessive, pointless violence (unlike, say, the cathartic and truly shocking violent spurts in "The Departed") and ham-fisted symbolism (dead bodies spread out in a Christ pose juxtaposed against a painting of Christ on the wall above them? Come on now). The last 20 minutes have so many would-be twists and "shocking moments" that the film loses any potential for seriousness and just becomes laughable. Ultimately, the entire purpose of the film--the themes surrounding the struggle to maintain personal morality--are pointless and go unresolved.

To some degree, "Brooklyn's Finest" isn't a bad film. The performances are strong enough and it's entertaining for a good deal of its bloated runtime, but for such a potentially great concept to result in such a thoroughly mediocre product is baffling, especially given the talent involved.

Grade: C-

View the trailer for "Brooklyn's Finest" below.  What are your thoughts?

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