Brooklyn's Finest (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Brooklyn’s Finest (2010)

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Being from a town that has a population of 40,000 and growing up in a neighborhood called Holiday Hills because all streets were named after Christmas things, I feel like I have a good handle on “the streets.” I have always liked the gritty cops/criminals films that pop up every once in a while, so if a movie has guns and  guys talking tough and in slang in a rough neighborhood, I am going to watch it.

The last few years, I have really loved films like Gone Baby Gone, Training Day and The Lookout and thought Brooklyn’s Finest would join this group. It had a really good cast including Don Cheadle and Ethan Hawke, plus a director that has proven he can make a good movie in this genre before. Unfortunately the movie was dull, uninspired and unrealistic.

The movie follows three New York Cops who work in Brooklyn over a week span. Sal (Ethan Hawke) a cop who will do anything to make enough money to support his family, Eddie (Richard Gere) a lonely, burnt out patrolman who is just punching the clock until his imminent retirement and Tango (Don Cheadle) a man who has been undercover so long the lines are starting to blur about who are supposed to be the good guys and who are the bad guys.

What could have been a good little cop movie with a great cast of character actors instead turns into a very shallow movie with little to say and nothing original. The three main characters are either paper thin or so horrible that you don’t like them and sometimes both.

Ethan Hawke’s Sal is unlikable from the very beginning and his reasoning for turning into a dirty cop is because he has to take of his family. His wife is pregnant with what looks like the 39th kid and the house is a small mold-plagued mess. Sal is worried that if he can’t buy a new house, he will have to ship some of his kids to live with relatives, while he can also see his wife getting sicker each day. Apparently he has never heard of moonlighting, do it your self-renovations or not knocking the wife up every 12 months.

Instead of those options he goes to taking dirty money by any means necessary. The viewer is supposed to feel bad for him because he is a good guy gone bad by circumstances out of his control, but the guy just seems like an asshole. So you root for him to get what is coming to him.

Richard Gere’s character, Eddie, is believe it or not, even a bigger ass than Sal. He has had an unremarkable career, no one likes him and the force will probably be better off after he is retired. At least with Sal, the movie gave him some reasons why he became what he was, but Eddie just seems like a pathetic man. At one time, it is alluded to that he has just seen too much and knows that he can’t do enough good in the world, but this is dropped right afterwards. He is supposed to train rookie cops and does a horrible job at it and this just proves that this guys is worthless. So he turns heroic in the climax of the movie, but this is neither believable nor well done.

Finally, Tango (Don Cheadle) is an undercover cop who was saved in prison by Caz (Wesely Snipes), a local crime boss. When Tango can get a detective position if he helps arrest Caz, he is conflicted about where his true loyalty lies. This is all you know about Tango, a description of him that lasts a total of 2 sentences. How long has he been undercover? What is his cover story? What happened between him and his ex-wife? Is he upset he is getting a divorce? How long has he been a cop? Why did he do undercover work in the beginning? None of these questions are brought up or answered, and Tango as a character is as thin as can be. Don Cheadle is one of the greatest actors working today, but even an actor as talented as him cannot do much with a character who has one defining trait and no personality to speak of.

The movie, on top of being boring and cliché, is unrealistic for what it was trying to portray. I have no problem with action movies being over the top, but when a movie is trying to be a realistic portrayal like Brooklyn’s Finest strives to be, you have to keep the action grounded. Sal’s squad goes on a drug raid and things go bad, many shots are fired and numerous people are killed. By this time in the film, it has been established that crooked cops killed a young man from the neighborhood and the whole place is tense and waiting to explode.

You would think a raid this bloody would be the spark to set off the neighborhood or at least the cops involved would be questioned on what went down. Instead, the same bunch of cops stage another raid THAT SAME WEEK in the same area with even bloodier results. There was also the scene where a man is gunned down in front of around 3-4 police cars and the police leave because “it wasn’t their problem” nor do they care what another cop was doing talking to the suspect who was gunned down.

All of these problems would have made the movie forgettable but not in the realm of a truly bad film were it not for the last 20 minutes. Of course the three cops and their unrelated stories would have to meet up in the end, but this ending has to have broken a record for most people shot and killed in the back. The way all 3 stories end up on the same street in the end is contrived, so much so that you can almost see the movie straining to keep everything going.

Finally, a word to the wise for all people thinking of making a film like this in the future: "The Wire" is unarguably the best crime story of the past 20 years and quite possibly of all time. The show had great stories, wonderful performances and made you feel like you were living out on those streets with the characters. When you make a movie/TV show that feels like a weak "Wire" clone like Brooklyn’s Finest, try not to employ half of "The Wire"’s cast. All you are doing is just highlighting your own weaknesses.

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Brooklyn's Finest (2009)

This film is currently available on DVD.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Starring Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, and Don Cheadle

Posted by Ryan

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  1. Based on the trailers it looked like it was a handy dandy film to pull out in case you ever needed to identify gritty cop traits to anyone.

    Hey look, Richard Gere is RETIRING. Ethan Hawke has 2 BILLION CHILDREN. Don Cheadle is TORMENTED.

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