Cop movies and TV shows are so omnipresent that it’s difficult imagining anything radically new happening to the genre. The best one can hope for nowadays is a variation on a theme.
Compared with the recent, monumentally awful “Cop Out,” I suppose the new Antoine Fuqua melodrama “Brooklyn’s Finest” is acceptable. Then again, you could say that about any movie in comparison with “Cop Out.” As you can tell, I’m a big fan of “Cop Out.”
But back to the matter at hand. Fuqua is best known for directing “Training Day,” an overrated cop movie starring an Oscar-winning Denzel Washington as a good-bad cop who might have received his training in Hades. The Brooklyn in this new film isn’t far removed from that location. Three cops, all of them in varying stages of psychological meltdown, gradually come apart before our eyes, leaving behind them a wake of corpses and cash. If ever there was a nonrecruitment movie for police work, this is it.
We first see Richard Gere’s Eddie waking up alone in a crummy apartment and reaching for a bottle of booze and a gun, which he inserts into his mouth before having second (third?) thoughts. Eddie is weeks away from retirement. Guess the benefits aren’t so hot.
Don Cheadle’s Tango is an undercover cop who is deeply implicated in the kingpin empire of his friend Caz (Wesley Snipes). Ethan Hawke’s Sal is a narcotics cop who is looking to score some drug money so he can move his asthmatic wife (Lili Taylor) out of their mold-infested house.
These three crosscutting stories are all pointed in the same direction – down, down, down. Soon the bottom is hit and the body count reaches epidemic proportions. Besides the three leads, a lot of other good actors, such as Vincent D’Onofrio, Brian F. O’Byrne and Ellen Barkin, put in appearances. They are all better than the film deserves.
On second thought, “Brooklyn’s Finest” does indeed provide a new genre twist. This must be the only cop movie ever made where a character is driven off the deep end by mold. Grade: C- (Rated R for bloody violence throughout, strong sexuality, nudity, drug content, and pervasive language.)