Brooklyn’s Finest (2009)

(In theatres, March 2010) Brooklyn’s Finest is a profoundly ironic title, but there’s little sly humour in the rest of this deliberately gritty and down-beat police drama that follows three variously-corrupted Brooklyn policemen.  This isn’t director Antoine Fuqua’s first corrupt cop drama (remember Training Day?), nor the first corrupt cop drama in recent memory (Dark BlueStreet KingsPride and GloryRighteous Kill?), so viewers may be spared a sentiment of déjà-vu.  Where this film distinguishes itself is in structure: The three stories rarely intersect, except for a bit of tragic cross-fire at the very end.  In the meantime, we get Richard Gere (far too proud and well-coiffed for his own role) as a disillusioned veteran marking down his last days, the always-fantastic Don Cheadle as an undercover informant with stronger ties to criminals than his own superiors, and Ethan Hawke as an overwhelmed father-of-many who resorts to stealing drug money in order to supplement his pay check.  Brooklyn’s Finest has a patina of unpleasantness that is supposed to transmute into authentic grittiness, but this illusion doesn’t sustain the steadily-increasing body-count as criminals are gunned down in police raids by the dozen.  Few of the film’s characters can be expected to live until the credits.  This sombre tone, alas, creates expectations that the unfocused, moralistic ending can’t match: Since this isn’t a popcorn picture, we look in vain for a deeper message and a stronger conclusion than a final hail of bullets.  The script, while interesting throughout, fails to cohere in its third act and the result is a mild disappointment.  Like many of its corrupted-blue brethren, Brooklyn’s Finest will be another forgettable DVD in the crime section; adequate to satisfy those looking for that kind of film, and insignificant for everyone else.

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