Movie Review: ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’

Movie Review: ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’

Shifting from Los Angeles to New York, director Antoine Fuqua takes his passion for good and bad cops to a new level of moral ambiguity broadening from one day to one week. Eddie Dugan (Richard Gere) is a burned out veteran just one week away from retirement, but a new project has him “mentoring” fresh […]

Shifting from Los Angeles to New York, director Antoine Fuqua takes his passion for good and bad cops to a new level of moral ambiguity broadening from one day to one week.

Eddie Dugan (Richard Gere) is a burned out veteran just one week away from retirement, but a new project has him “mentoring” fresh recruits in his final days; Sal Procida (Ethan Hawke) is a narcotics officer that is becoming increasingly desperate to provide a better life for his growing brood and chronically ill wife; and Clarence “Tango” Butler (Don Cheadle) is an undercover cop that’s been deep for so long the lines between law and criminal is beginning to blur, especially in regards to his prison buddy and infamous drug dealer Caz (Wesley Snipes). Over seven days, Eddie, Sal and Tango are hurdled towards a destiny that will culminate within one of New York’s most dangerous precincts.

Similar to Training Day, the film is harsh and gritty unfolding in the streets and back alleys of a notoriously drug-ridden neighbourhood. The police officers are consistently faced with tough choices that call their loyalty to the badge into question. During the two moments in the film when each character is confronted with a life-altering decision, parallel editing is used to inter-cut the scenes and build tension. As the characters even cross paths briefly the second time, the device genuinely works in highlighting the intensity of the forthcoming events.

The acting is extraordinary as the level of talent on the screen at any one time is commanding. Hawke truly thrives when portraying characters at a crossroad. At the same time, his determination to follow his selected path is unsettling and true. Cheadle has played this conflicted, frustrated character before, but he never fails to impress in these trying roles. Snipes is seeing his first theatrical release in seven attempts, nevertheless proving he still has what it takes to turn in a solid dramatic performance. Gere is uncommonly disheartened while remaining impossibly dedicated. It’s a type he hasn’t played before, but he manages to deliver. The only complaint can be made against extended, on-screen sexual encounters between him and a prostitute.

Brooklyn’s Finest is a hard-edged tale of corruption and loyalty clashing as the three men must choose one alliance over another, simultaneously destroying their relationship with the other. As they struggle to decide, it is easy to understand their difficulty because the narrative has clearly laid out how they got to this point and what the consequences of each choice will be. Alternatively, other than Ellen Barkin and her position of power, there is a lack of pervasive female characters that transcend the distinction of simply ornamental.

Though one may not agree with the moral high grounds that Fuqua takes in his films, he always delivers a compelling picture.