The reason clichés become clichés is that they are rooted in truth. In Brooklyn’s Finest, director Antoine Fuqua [Training Day] and screenwriter Michael C. Mann attempt to see through the clichés to the truth that lies beneath. They are only partially successful.
The film follows three cops – about to be retired Eddie [Richard Gere], overwhelmed family man Sal [Ethan Hawke] and undercover cop Tango [Don Cheadle] – through a few very pressure packed days in the worst part of the most crime ridden precinct in Brooklyn.
Eddie, who would prefer to turtle his way through his last seven days on the job is selected, by computer, a new program that pairs older, presumably wiser cops with rookies. His first new partner is a disaster so he finds himself with a new, even less wonderful one, the next day.
Sal is trying to find the money for a down payment on a new house – his current one is filled with wood mold and it’s slowly killing his wife [Lily Taylor] who is pregnant with twins – and his other kids have to share bedrooms.
Tango is snitching on a drug selling outfit headed by Caz [Wesley Snipes], who saved his life while he was undercover in prison – and his handler [Will Patton] and a tough, gung-ho FBI agent [Ellen Barkin] want him to set up Caz and his operation.
One by one, we see each of the cops’ lives take darker turns and, by the time their separate arcs cross – but don’t quite touch – at the beginning of the third act, it’s apparent that no amount of solid performances, or juiced up direction can keep Brooklyn’s finest from going off the rails. Each arc concludes in bloody, foreseeable fashion and even the ironic ending is obvious and no amount of working for it can earn the audience’s respect.
When a cop movie’s most memorable moments feature a hooker with Blue Fever [Shannon Kane], you know the movie’s in trouble!
Fuqua’s energetic direction and his cast of quality characters mostly keep things together until that third act, but the script is so obvious and so full of clichés, that it’s hard to see the truth that everyone was looking for.
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