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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Brooklyn's Finest

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BROOKLYN'S FINEST –  Three cops on a collision course with destiny

Three emotionally and psychologically tortured Brooklyn police offers are the focus of this gritty and intense crime drama from the same director who gave us Training Day, which earned Denzel Washington his Best Actor Oscar.

Director Antoine Fuqua returns to the police genre with his latest film from a script by first time screenwriter, Michael C. Martin (who grew up in the Brooklyn projects) that takes us into one of the worst drug ridden and crime infected areas of New York City.  The story is structured like Crash in that it moves back and forth between the separate lead characters who don't know each other, and have never met until the end when their lives fatefully converge.

Richard Gere (in one of his best performances) plays Eddie Dugan, a burnt out, disillusioned cop with 22 years on the force. Though just a week away from retiring, he is not a happy camper, occasionally contemplating suicide with a gun to his mouth.   Eddie's only friend is a bottle of booze and the only woman in his life is his favorite prostitute, a biracial beauty named Chantel (Shannon Kane) whom he visits on a regular basis.

Ethan Hawke (who co-starred with Denzel in Training Day) is Sal Procida, a narcotics cop and family man with a brood of kids and a pregnant, asthmatic wife, Angela (Lili Taylor), who is expecting twins. Struggling financially to support his growing family and desperate for enough cash to move them out of their mold infested house into a new home, Sal's religious Catholic convictions are compromised when he resorts to stealing dirty, drug money and killing those who stand in his way.

Don Cheadle plays Clarence “Tango” Butler, whose been working undercover so long that he has gotten himself in deep with some of Brooklyn's  most treacherous criminals. He has even formed a brotherly bond with his prison buddy Casanova “Caz”  (Wesley Snipes), a notorious drug lord newly released from incarceration who is making an attempt to go straight. Sick and tired of working undercover, Tango wants out so bad he will settle for a desk job in lieu of a promotion. However, his loyalty is put to the test when Tango's boss,  Lt. Bill Hobart (Will Patton) promises to fulfill that wish if he will take part in an operation to send Caz back to  jail. Ellen Barkin (looking awful in a short bob that only accentuates her crooked facial bone structure) is featured in a small role as a tough as nails Federal Agent in charge of the set up.

Brooklyn's Finest is a film about three cops who want to do right but must deal with corruption on a personal level or that of the law enforcement system where cover ups exist as part of the scenario. Director Fuqua seems to be obsessed with police corruption and with no holds barred, once again delivers a film that is in no way pretty and not for the faint of heart.  In fact,  it is dripping with bloody violence, profanity (the F-word must have been dropped at least 100 times)and intense scenes right from the get go. While others might say we have been down this route one too many times and the film doesn't provide anything we haven't seen before, no question this is a brutal, raw and powerful, adrenaline pumping film with riveting performances from the three leading stars and a welcome return to the screen of Wesley Snipes after a long hiatus.

There are cliches but that shouldn't lesson the film's impact on viewing audiences. I was enthralled from the start up to the contrived, yet no less haunting, climax. Brooklyn's Finest most likely won't make my list as the finest film of the year,  but it is a good film worth seeing for the star power alone.

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