March 04, 2010

Brooklyn's Finest

Hey Don, there's this tax guy I gotta hook you up with...

Grade: B –

Starring: Antoine Fuqua

Starring: Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, and Wesley Snipes

MPAA Rating: R

Running Time: 2 hour, 20 minutes

A thin blue film coats Antoine Fuqua’s Brooklyn’s Finest, the director’s welcome needed return to his hardboiled cop drama roots. And, like Fuqua’s Training Day, this is a testosterone-fueled, actor-driven policier that favors melodramatics over originality.

The narrative is a loosely connected triptych following the travails of three ethically challenged police officers: A burned-down flatfoot on the eve of retirement (Richard Gere); a drug-addled, financially strapped narc (Ethan Hawke); and an undercover cop (Don Cheadle) dug deep inside the drug network of a local kingpin (Wesley Snipes). The archetypes and clich├ęs run as long as the Brooklyn Bridge, but Fuqua infuses them with incisive character development that transcends the superficial plot and rationed screen-time.

Brooklyn’s Finest is a live Wire electrified with almost cartoonish intensity. Luckily, the actors walking this beat know the score. While an emotionally distant Gere is miscast, Hawke has perfected the man-on-the-edge role. But, the film belongs to the tremendous yet still strangely underrated Cheadle, flashing the same streetwise verisimilitude and offbeat dialogue that previously informed his performances in Out of Sight and Devil in the Blue Dress.

Neil Morris

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