Thursday, April 29, 2010
Brooklyn's Finest **
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle, Wesley Snipes
Jesse Williams, Ellen Barkin, Brian F. O'Byrne, Shannon Kane
Lili Taylor, Will Patton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Logan Marshall-Green
Despite a cast that ought to guarantee a superb movie experience, Brooklyn's Finest often verges on parody with its treatment of the police genre.
Director Fuqua centers on the parallel stories of three police force members in the title borough.
Officer Eddie Dugan (Gere) is a mere week away from retiring when he's asked to train rookies that lead him to no good.
Detective Salvatore Procida (Hawke) is a family man in need of money to support his ever growing family (Taylor plays his wife), which he gets from cash gone unnoticed in drug raids.
Detective Clarence Butler (Cheadle) is working undercover who gets offered a chance at a promotion if he helps bust his friend Caz (Snipes), a known criminal who's been recently released from jail.
The three men show us what countless movies have shown us for decades: being a cop is not easy, noble or good if you're in New York City.
That Fuqua does so with a certain degree of condescension towards the audience seems absolutely bonkers.
There is not a single cop flick cliché these characters aren't willing to embody. Eddie's only friend for example is, you guessed it, a hooker with a heart of gold (Kane), while Salvatore's Catholic guilt forces him to pray before he shoots people and when the time comes for each of the three leads to get their comeuppance, it happens within the limits of the moral lesson they were meant to teach us about all along.
The film isn't lacking in good performances (how could it with this cast?) but most of the time it doesn't know what to do with the talent it's given.
Perhaps Brooklyn's Finest was just too ambitious and overreaching for Fuqua, who has no idea how to handle parallel storylines without turning them into a violent Destiny's Child video sans split screens.
Every time there is a major set piece, all the characters go through the same things at the same time; when to this unbelievable fact you add an ominous, overpowering score, we are left with a sloppy version of Magnolia that thinks it has important things to say about interconnections but really has nothing new or even interesting to contribute.