This morning I caught a movie I’ve been waiting for for months, Brooklyn’s Finest, and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. If I had to use one word to describe it, the word would be dark. You can watch the trailer and know what type of world you’re getting into, but to watch how it all plays out, this film at times makes Training Day (also directed by Antoine Fuqua) look like Police Academy.
The three central characters of the story are a cop played by Ethan Hawke, who willingly bends the rules to provide for his increasingly expanding family, an undercover cop played by Don Cheadle who is ready to get out of undercover work and wants his regular life back, and a retiring cop on his last week of the job, played by Richard Gere, who just wants to get to retirement without any trouble. You don’t have to be as big of the fan of the crime genre as I am to know you’ve seen these character types; Donnie Brasco and Se7en immediately come to mind. So as with any genre film, you judge it against how it takes these archetypes and give you an interesting take.
I thought in this case the cast of characters was stronger than the story that was told. And is that a surprise? Kansas City bias aside, I’d pay full price to watch Don Cheadle drink a glass of milk, he doesn’t disappoint. I’m not the first person to note the (deliberate?) similarities between the kingpin character played by Wesley Snipes here and his trademark role of Nino Brown. The East Coast locale and type of story surely played into seeing a few familiar faces from a certain greatest TV show of all time that came on HBO and was set in Baltimore. He looks the exact same, but the difference between Ethan Hawke’s LA cop in Training Day and his Brooklyn cop here gave me more respect for him as an actor. And much of the film revolves around Richard Gere’s character. I think the best compliment I can give him is the man still has ‘it’: the ability to be the anchor in a ridiculously talented ensemble. And there’s a few other ‘names’ who pop up but I won’t name who.
The crime genre (and its most lucrative subgenre, the gangster genre) have both hit that point where greatness is almost impossible to get to. So when a film does a good job, you acknowledge how hard it was. And Brooklyn’s Finest is a good film; worth checking out for the great acting alone.