Monday, March 8, 2010

"Brooklyn's Finest": It could have been a contender

"Brooklyn's Finest"
Two Stars

By Gary Buiso

“Brooklyn’s Finest” is a cop drama so desperate for street cred, it becomes entangled in borough bravado — and oblivious to its own contrivances.

Bodies pile up — but so do the clichés — rendering several otherwise fine performances as pointless as the on-screen violence becomes.

The film, directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) tells the stories of three cops on course for a tragic trajectory, all three fueled by one deadly sin or another.

Sloth is the downfall of Eddie (Richard Gere), a beat cop battered by years on a job that never quite turned out as he thought it would. With a week before retirement, Eddie plans to carry on the same way he has his entire career — barely protecting and serving.

Wrath befalls Tango (Don Cheadle), an undercover cop who becomes too close to the street, and to the people he’s trying to lock-up. Tango’s got one more case to close before he gets bumped up to detective — but will the streets let him escape?

Then there’s Sal (Ethan Hawke), a narcotics cop with seven mouths to feed and a few more on the way. He’s desperate to make, or steal, enough money to move his family out of their moldy Homecrest home. (Avenue R and East 16th Street gets a rare on-screen shout-out.) But pride — his sin — usually comes before the fall.

Gere is particularly nuanced, and Wesley Snipes, as Cheadle’s jailhouse pal, is a scene-stealer.

But Fuqua seems so intent on rarefying the source material — a script by Michael C. Martin, a Brooklyn-born transit worker — that he fails to elevate it beyond television melodrama.

To borrow from another borough-based film, “Brooklyn’s Finest” could have been a contender.

"Brooklyn’s Finest." Rated R for bloody violence throughout, strong sexuality, nudity, drug content and pervasive language. Running time: 133 minutes. With Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle, Wesley Snipes, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lili Taylor, and Ellen Barkin.

Playing in Brooklyn at Access Digital Theatres - Pavilion Cinema in Park Slope, downtown at the UA Court Street Stadium 12, UA Sheepshead Bay 14, Kent Theatre in Coney Island, Linden Boulevard Multiplex Cinemas in East New York.


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