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The Small Talk Will Kill You Quicker Than The Guns

Movie Title: Brooklyn's Finest (2010)
Spoilers: No

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The New York cop has by now become a clichéd item. New York cops get the short end of the stick in movies. They've been getting it for a while. The mostly cloudy weather, the wise Catholic priests who give hushed advice in confessionals, and the heavy New England accents that you can't miss, it’s what we’ve come to expect. Beyond that, they are portrayed as having dirty mouths and are labeled as racists, corrupted by greed.

The result is that it's hard to make a police drama based in New York and see it raise the bar. Brooklyn's Finest doesn't raise the bar. The improbable encounters and situations alone give cause for concern. The acting leaves no one impressed. Brooklyn's Finest has room for improvement. And why not start in the morality department.

If it's corrupt cops we want, why not stop having them take overt and undisguised bribes in meetings, or at least cut back on how often they do it. Talking about who in the locker room has whose playboy, now I say that can wait a bit. Cops threatening each other with pronounced stares and an evil eye, let's make that a priority to get rid of too.

You bet your last dollar that all but the most corrupt and racist cops in the city are not this forward in professing their corruption. Cops don't act or talk like they are seen to behave here, and they are far more competent down to the wettest rookie. Gang members and cocaine-slinging street hoodlums don't carry on conversations as they appear to in this flawed film. Both sides should sue for misrepresentation or else cash in on the potential satire value.

The tension-less, vulgarity-engorged “tough guy” scenes are an ever-present unwelcome guest in this house of horrendous street talk that is so ill-timed and confusing that you can't tell whether you're supposed to be shocked or just angered. You have problematic cops, plagued with personal demons, all of them proving distracting to watch by their own offsetting traits and arrogance.

Eddie (Richard Gere), Tango (Don Cheadle), and Sal (Ethan Hawke) are three cops who don't know each other, but work in the same city. In some unique way, their personal struggles put them at odds with what they do. With some similarities to the 2004 movie Crash, you follow these officers in their personal and professional lives until it comes to the conclusion at one dangerous final encounter.

Make nothing of it that I compare Brooklyn's Finest with Crash. In Crash, you got to see lives shuffled around until everyone understood a different aspect of the human experience. In Brooklyn's Finest, you see a scantily salvageable plot in a near-total loss of a delivery, but nothing more.

As with most police dramas, everything will come to center around race relations and corrupt departments. In Brooklyn's Finest, you get abundant cutaways to racial slurs and once good cops gone bad who meet to save face and deliberate to continue the perpetuation of a vicious cycle of oppression to save departmental face. Where drugs and thugs and huge wads of cash are found lying around like candy wrappers, there lies opportunities, so says the NYPD.

Gere's Eddie has an appreciable depth, but the character has no accented touches that hold you to him. Cheadle's Tango feels more like a borderline psycho with anger problems than a conflicted cop, but was an ideal selection to play the part. He struggles with the dilemma of being true to his oath as a police officer or loyal to his wrap-sheet-heavy friends from the hood. Snipes almost nails “Caz,” an ex-con street criminal dancing on the fringes of his barely-attained freedom.

But it's a long time before the movie makes any real or meaningful connections, and the ride to get there is a very bumpy one, with shotty performances on most everyone's part and bad dialogue that is arguably worse. Without question, Brooklyn's Finest just won't cut it.

(JH)

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Grade: D+ (1 ½ stars)
Rated: R (for violence, language, and nudity)
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Summary: Three unconnected Brooklyn cops wind up at the same deadly location, having come from vastly different career paths.
Starring: Richard Gere "Eddie," Don Cheadle "Tango," Ethan Hawke "Sal," Wesley Snipes "Caz," Vincent D'Onofrio "Carlo," Brian F. O'Byrne "Ronny Rosario," Will Patton "Lt. Bill Hobarts," Jesse Williams "E. Quinlan," Lili Taylor "Angela"
Genre: Crime / Drama
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