Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Having already brought us action thrillers like The Replacement Killers and Shooter along with classic stories like Tears of the Sun and the highly acclaimed Training Day, director Antoine Fuqua reloads his chamber for another police drama with Brooklyn’s Finest. What caught my attention immediately from the advertisements was that this film, which Fuqua also helped produce, took place completely within the borough of Brooklyn where as the norm has been to use the island of Manhattan as the backdrop whenever it came to portraying New York City. The well written story by Michael C. Martin revolves around three New York City Police officers, each with their own role in the film and in the department.
Tango has been undercover for what seems like forever, with his assignment beginning with a stint as a prisoner in jail. He is to help bring down one of the most notorious drug lords, Casanova “Caz” Philips (Wesley Snipes), in Brooklyn whom he has grown close to and befriends after an incident involving the two in prison where Philips saved his life. He is aching to get out of undercover work which has claimed his normal life along with his marriage as casualties. With Philips just getting out of jail on a technicality, Tango is asked to have him set up to send him back. He is offered the rank of detective first grade if he succeeds in this task which plays on his conscious due to the closeness of their friendship.
Detective Salvatore Procida is at his wits end trying to provide for his already large family which is still growing with six children and two more on the way. His home is barely holding everyone and the mold contained within the walls are causing complications for his wife’s asthma and the twins she is carrying. He has resorted to stealing drug money left behind during drug busts and police raids to cover the down payment on the new home he is trying to buy to house his family. He struggles with the “dirty cop” label being put on the police family and trying to save his own from being in the poor house.
Although the three stories didn’t exactly intertwine as I thought they would, the overall concept of presenting the ins, outs, and going ons of life as a police officer in general was well presented in this film. Add on the concept of policing in Brooklyn, NY and it makes the job that much more difficult. Listed as taking place in the Brownsville and the Van Dyke housing sections of Brooklyn, Fuqua chose to use the most known dangerous parts in the borough to tell his story. Even though some parts of the story are a little over the top, like growing so increasingly close to a prostitute a character looks at her lovingly and some of the outright, blatant killings and robbing of drug dealers, the film cuts deep into what it very well could be like trying to police the streets of an area who already hates cops and some of those same cops not giving them any reason to feel otherwise.
The acting efforts put forth by all of the actors in this film were pretty spot on. Although we haven’t really seen Richard Gere in anything substantial in a while, his performance here is very believable and warrants some notice. At first I felt he may have been miscast in this role, but puts on a half decent Brooklyn accent and gives weight to his character whose type is often looked over in real life in the department. Don Cheadle is a great character who is usually underrated in my own opinion, he embraces the life as the undercover cop who deals drugs but at the same time relates to the dealers and understands their hatred of the men and women sworn to protect and serve. Allowing you feel his desperation and need to do what needs to be done, Ethan Hawke puts his tough guy but family man persona into third gear with this part. Unlike Officer Hoyt in Training Day, Detective Procida doesn’t hesitate in putting bad guys away to put his family into a better house. You can feel his desire and even start to root for him along the way but can still sense his recklessness may make his family situation even worse than it already is.
Like his other projects, the story line in this Fuqua film was well told. Down to the climatic ending it has the audience wanting to know the outcome of each of these police officers lives. At first it has a feel like it may come across as just another inner city police drama but it offers much more. A clearer in-depth view into the lives of police officers as well as the dangerous streets they must patrol. Their uniform and badge might as well be a painted target worthy of Picasso. But as in everything, it’s not always easy to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. I present Brooklyn’s Finest with “3.5 reasons to try to appreciate the work some police officers do out of about a hundred”.
"This is your first day kid. Today a woman gets hit, tomorrow it's rape, the day after that it's murder. You have twenty years of days. This job takes enough out of you, don't take it home."