Movie Review: Brooklyn’s Finest

Training Day director Antoine Fuqua returns to familiar territory with Brooklyn’s Finest. There is a glaring absence this time around (no, that’s not a Denzel Washington reference), but this gritty cop drama is ultimately a more interesting film than his 2001 Oscar-winner.

Brooklyn’s Finest interweaves the lives of three New York City police officers, all of whom find themselves at a crossroads in their respective lives and careers.  It offers three different angles on the morality of law enforcement from three desperate men with very different priorities.

Richard Gere takes a rare step outside the “mom movie” genre and gets top billing as the proverbial burned out cop who’s a week away from retirement.

Don Cheadle plays an undercover officer whose loyalties are put to question when he is offered a promotion if he can manage to bring down a man (Wesley Snipes) who once saved his life.  Snipes doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time, but it’s nice to see him back on the big screen in his first theatrically released film since 2004’s Blade: Trinity.

The most gripping story and captivating performance, however, belongs to Ethan Hawke as a crooked cop who is trying to collect enough money to move his family out of their mold-infested home while his wife is pregnant with their sixth and seventh children

The film’s editor, Barbara Tulliver, earns every bit of her paycheck as she somehow manages to create a sense of cohesion while constantly intercutting the three plotlines, but it is the film’s somber and depressive score that acts as the glue and holds all these scenes together.  It maintains a particular tone as it overlaps the ever-shifting focus of the narrative, at times reminding me of Paul Thomas Anderson’s work in Magnolia.

The story is strong and offers just enough insight on each character’s mindset, but some scenes seem to drag on unnecessarily long.  Above all, Michael C. Martin’s script lacks the bite and sharpness that we are used to seeing from David Ayer, who has written so many of these movies in recent years (see: Training Day, Dark Blue, Harsh Times).

There are moments in Brooklyn’s Finest when the acting, music, and editing work on such an intense level only to be brought down by dialogue that doesn’t pack enough punch for the situation.  It serves its purpose just fine, but we don’t get anything as impactful or memorable as those climactic moments in the Ayer-written films.

While Brooklyn’s Finest is far from being in the same class as Serpico or L.A. Confidential, it might be right up your alley if you were disappointed by recent cop movies like Righteous Kill and We Own the Night.

Rating: 7/10

RIYL: Cop Land, Serpico, Heat, Crash.

"Don't you want to do something useful with your last two minutes on the job?"

4 Responses to “Movie Review: Brooklyn’s Finest”
  1. Richard Gere is so much more than a “Mom’s Movie” actor. C’mon!

  2. I realize that, but most of his prominent movies in recent years have been what I would call “mom coms” or “mama dramas.”

    It was nice to see him back in a strong role in a serious movie.

  3. You need to see “The Hoax”.

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