August 2, 2010

The cop drama is certainly no stranger to Hollywood and Antoine Fuqua, director of Training Day, is certainly no stranger to cop dramas.  Although Brooklyn’s Finest has its similarities to Training Day, as far as corruption within the law goes, it seems to focus more on the struggles that take place within each of the main characters.

With a cast list that includes Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, and Wesley Snipes, you might think this film was released sometime in the 1990s, but hit the jump to see if these guys have still got what it takes in 2010 and for my entire review of Brooklyn’s Finest on DVD:

Brooklyn’s Finest tells the story of three police officers leading separate lives, but all sharing similar personal struggles that come along with their line of work.  First introduced is Detective Sal Procida (Hawke), who finds it hard to be an honest and religious man while struggling to keep his growing family out of poverty.  Next, is Eddie Dugan (Gere), a veteran police officer only a few days out of retirement, who struggles with the fact the legacy he’ll be leaving behind is a less than stellar one, to say the least.  And finally, there’s Clarence “Tango” Butler (Cheadle), an undercover detective who finds himself torn between his reality and the alter ego he’s created over the years, which includes a close relationship with known criminal, Casanova “Caz” Phillips (Snipes).

The story is told from each man’s point of view separately, but with the occasional overlapping to remind you that this story takes place in the same city. It’s a solid film, not horrible and not spectacular, but somewhere in between. Basically, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before with films like Traffic or Crash, although it’s certainly not at the level of either of the two. With the actors involved, you know you’re going to a least get some decent performances, even if it’s not the most original material you’ve come across.  The film is perfectly cast.  Richard Gere has fully embraced being an aging actor in Hollywood and uses it to nail what Dugan, the aging police officer is going through.  It’s hard not to like Don Cheadle, which works to his advantage as it helps the audience sympathize with Tango’s situation. His chemistry with Snipes makes it easy to understand the friendship these two characters have established and why Tango finds himself torn. And Ethan Hawke is…well, he’s Ethan Hawke. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since he’s usually perfect for the roles he is cast in.  The role of Sal is no exception and he fits it perfectly. That being said, I have yet to see some serious range from Hawke.  If you check out some of the behind the scenes footage on the DVD, you’ll find it hard to distinguish a difference in persona between Hawke and that of his character. It would be nice to see what else he is capable of.

Director Antoine Fuqua experienced success at such an early stage in his career with Training Day that it almost becomes too difficult to try and top it.  It’s really hard to watch Brooklyn’s Finest without making any kind of comparison.  One of the things that I really like about Fuqua’s direction was his decision to keep this film real by actually shooting within three boroughs of New York City: Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.  There are some really interesting behind-the-scenes-featurettes on the DVD that focus on the choices Fuqua made. Boyz N the Real Hood takes a look at the real people from the neighborhood that Fuqua chose to use in the film.  An Eye for Detail reveals why it was so important to Fuqua to keep the locations and people in the film as real as possible.

The most entertaining special feature though is the featurette on the writer, Michael C. Martin.  This was the first script he ever wrote and he did so while working as a subway flagman in the city.  He originally wrote the script as a part of a screenwriting contest to win some money to buy a new car after his was totaled.  From there, it caught the eye of an agent and then of Fuqua.  And just like that…Michael C. Martin went from one day being a subway flagman to waking up the next day as a full time Hollywood screenwriter.

The featurettes are interesting enough to make the film itself more enjoyable. They certainly enhance the DVD and are worth taking a look at.  The film is not one I’d tell you to run out and see this very minute, but ultimately, I’d say it’s, at the very least, worth the rental and worth checking out.

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