Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
|Featuring:||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), Michael K. Williams (Red—as Michael Kenneth Williams), Lili Taylor (Angela), Shannon Kane (Chantel), Ellen Barkin (Agent Smith), Wass Stevens (Det. Patrick Leary), See all »|
|Director:||Antoine Fuqua—“Training Day,” “Shooter,” “King Arthur”|
|Producer:||Overture Films, Millennium Films, Thunder Road Productions (as Thunder Road Film Productions), Nu Image Films (as Nu Image), Langley Productions (as Langley Films, Inc.), Brooklyn’s Finest Productions, Elie Cohn, Boaz Davidson, Antoine Fuqua, Robert Greenhut, Basil Iwanyk, Jesse Kennedy, John Langley, Avi Lerner, Joe Napolitano, Jeanne O'Brien, Kat Samick, John Thompson, Mary Viola|
“This is war. This is Brooklyn.”
In 2001, an LA based police drama called “Training Day” was released to rave reviews. It was gritty, grisly, real, and the performances were award winning including a Best Actor Oscar for Denzel Washington. The director of “Training Day”, Antoine Fuqua, was then considered the next up and coming filmmaker in Hollywood. Since then, however, Fuqua has yet to find an audience with any of his films whether they’re action dramas or not. He’s tried his hand at military (“Tears of the Sun”) as well as medieval (“King Arthur”) films but can’t seem to capture whatever he had in “Training Day.” With his latest effort, “Brooklyn’s Finest”, Fuqua takes the same subject matter as well as some of the same cast as “Training Day.” While it’s probably the best film he’s made since then, “Brooklyn’s Finest” feels too familiar to be Fuqua’s next masterpiece.
The plot centers around three very different stories involving three officers in Brooklyn, NY. Played by Don Cheadle, Richard Gere, and Ethan Hawke, each character is at a different point in his career and is faced with a challenge. As the stories converge we see how each plays out in gritty, gory detail. Each character is forced to ultimately make a choice that will affect not only them personally but also how the audience views them and their actions.
As in “Training Day,” “Finest” contains quite a number of moral quandaries. Fuqua seems to revel in questioning the audiences’ opinion of right and wrong. He deals heavily with symbolism, and directs every scene with such intensity that it feels as though you’ve been to battle. He also plays word games with the film’s title making you rethink it by movie’s end. ***SPOILER ALERT*** At the beginning we are to believe that all of these men are in fact Brooklyn’s finest officers in the plural sense of the word, but as we see the choices that each man makes and the results of those choices, we realize as the credits start to roll that only one of these men is Brooklyn’s finest officer, in the singular sense of the word. It’s this dynamic that is easily the best and most redeeming aspect of the film.
The problems with the film are mostly story related. These three stories all converge, but, before then, they each get bogged down in cliché ridden dialogue and too much melodrama. The cast is superb, including the three I mentioned, as well as Wesley Snipes in a performance that seemed to be tailor made for the Bronx native. It just all seems a little familiar, and, because of this, the viewer doesn’t care as deeply as is necessary to make the ending pack any sort of emotional punch.
From a content perspective, the film is about the slums of Brooklyn, and director Fuqua has gone to great lengths to depict this as realistically as possible. This means countless profanities, explicit violence, as well as graphic nudity and sexuality. None of this is glamorized in any way, but is depicted as a sad, real part of life. It also makes this movie completely inappropriate for kids. A high level of Christian discernment should be taken when contemplating seeing “Brooklyn’s Finest.”
There is a good message in the film, one of doing what’s right no matter how difficult. But it’s also a simple message that can be found in countless other films that are made better and easier to watch. Despite that message and the cast, it’s just a tough movie to sit through from a content and moviemaking perspective. Because it feels so much like “Training Day: New York Edition”, “Brooklyn’s Finest” just doesn’t stand on its own.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.