Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brooklyn's Finest

Before we get down to it, let me say I love New York movies. Whether its Scorsese, Lumet, Woody Allen, or Spike Lee I love the movies that capture the essence of the city. And that is what Antoine Fuqua does with Brooklyn's Finest is captures the essence of the city. Through slow tracking thoughts and ominous music, Fuqua takes us on an operatic, tragic, and overly melodramatic look at three New York City cops from the same department. The fact that they are walking cliches is beside the point. The point is that we care about the characters and for the most part we do. Richard Gere plays a burnt out veteran with a less than stellar record with a week left until retirement when he draws a new assignment to train rookie cops. Gere plays him as almost a despicable coward, not willing to risk his neck or do what seems to be his job so he can make his pension. There is a telling scene seemingly inspired by the HBO series Deadwood in which Gere explains his motives during an intimate moment with a hooker (with a heart of gold, which just adds to the cliches this movies awash in). Ethan Hawke, who was so good as the naive cop in Fuqua's Training Day, steps into the Denzel role here as a cop who can rationalize his way out of any crime, as long as it benefits his family. Don Cheadle plays the undercover cop, so deep undercover that he doesn't know whether he should stay loyal to his department, or the drug dealer who saved his life (Wesley Snipes in a surprisingly effective performance). The fact that the movie opens with a shot of a cemetery doesn't bode well for our boys in blue and all leads to a violent ending in another one of those contrived coincidental endings that only happen in the movies. Yet, despite the cliches, everything leading up to this works and holds your attention.
**1/2 stars