Don Cheadle, Wesley Snipes, Richard Gere Are ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’

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CHICAGO – The “thin blue line,” that imaginary border that separates society between order and chaos, is experienced on a daily basis by the police “force.” The human beings knighted with this responsibility are “Brooklyn’s Finest.”

Antoine Fuqua, the director of “Training Day,” also helms this cop drama about a seedy Brooklyn precinct populated by different levels of ethical policeman psychosis. Ethan Hawke is Sal, a by-the-numbers drug enforcer whose Catholic roots bears seven children. Richard Gere is Eddie, a 22 year veteran on the cusp of retirement, portrayed not as the cliché that’s expected.

They are dealing with community tensions involving a shooting of an honor student in the gritty Brooklyn projects by a corrupt cop. The feds are involved, and have undercover agents on the street, including Don Cheadle as Tango, an ex-player turned informant. He anticipates the return of his former crime compatriot, Caz (Wesley Snipes), to write the final chapter in his assignment.

The Happy Hour: Don Cheadle in ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’
The Happy Hour: Don Cheadle in ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’
Photo Credit: Phillip V. Caruso for © Brooklyn’s Finest Productions, Inc.

While internal affairs try to put things in order, Eddie is assigned rookie duty in his last week on the beat, and refuses to cooperate when the experiment fails. Sal is doing his usual exceptional investigations, but can’t help but think there is a more advantageous result in the use of his power. Tango and Caz are enjoying their reunion, but the people Tango works for wants less enjoyment and more pain inflicted.

Director Fuqua – in an interview published here – expressed concern about taking on another cop movie after Training Day. But the genius of his taking on this story is that he didn’t view it as a “police” movie. He saw it as a human drama, with men and women under tremendous societal pressure, and they happen to be our protectors.

The cast is truly exceptional. Don Cheadle is at the I-can-make-the-phone-book-interesting phase of his career where his interpretations make all the right choices. His conflicted ex-street warrior is desperate for something, but when old friends are brought into the mix he can relax for a minute and experience camaraderie, actually feel his life force again. Wesley Snipes coolly affixes Caz with an interesting vulnerability. He actually is in the process of rehabilitating himself, which effects every decision on the street.

On the men in blue side, Ethan Hawke’s Sal balances on the edge of a knife with serious intention. He is the bedrock of America, the family man who only wants to make sure his responsibilities are met, and he’s willing to go the distance for them. Richard Gere meets a later career role that’s a gem, it’s a reminder of his young turk days when he would take on any acting chance. Here, for example, he speaks some intrepid dialogue while receiving a certain oral favor.

Let’s Be Careful Out There: Richard Gere and Ethan Hawke in ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’
Let’s Be Careful Out There: Richard Gere and Ethan Hawke in ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’
Photo Credit: Phillip V. Caruso for © Brooklyn’s Finest Productions, Inc.

The world that Fuqua has put these characters into resembles our daily lives. He is asking questions here, that have no easy answers. How much, for example, can a promotion be used against Tango to keep his Judas act going? Why do municipal police forces keep burnt-out men in harm’s way? What part of the American Dream doesn’t work when the very people we ask to protect us can’t legitimately support a family?

Racial politics are played out, but in a more subtle sense. The world is a ghetto in Michael C. Martin’s screenplay, with the levels of criminality based on black and white, but each having their nuances of gray. Snipe’s character of Caz and Gere’s Eddie seems to represent that on either side – there is an expectation that they will do a certain thing, but their compass directs them otherwise.

This is an excessively violent movie, much as the streets can be. The deaths are operatic and at times seem necessary, not only to punish the wicked but to involve the perceived good into a karmic life cycle. These endings are neither good nor bad, they just are endings.

Fuqua and his amazing cast formulate a Shakespearean American crime drama that reflects right back at us, and the light is absolutely blinding.

“Brooklyn’s Finest” opens everywhere March 5th and features Wesley Snipes, Don Cheadle, Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, Lili Taylor and Ellen Barkin, directed by Antoine Fuqua. Rated “R.” Click here for HollywoodChicago’s interview with Wesley Snipes and Antoine Fuqua.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2010 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

Anonymous's picture

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I saw this movie. It’s one of my favorite films. Richard Gere is one of my favorite actors, too.

Bravia's picture

This movie is very nice,

This movie is very nice. Clean screenplay and nice presentation. Great movie. A must-see.

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