Posted on 8/07/12 11:39 PM
2.5 Stars out of 4
Back to the realm of The Departed we go with Brooklyn's Finest. But where The Departed zoned in on the codes of the rules and the stress as a double agent, Brooklyn's Finest really just tries to vignette its precinct drama. It's not that director Antoine Fuqua can't effectively make a crime drama, it's just that he can't broaden the genre. His ideas always fall back to basics. Even Training Day's gaze on crime was cliché to the bare bone, but thrived off its soaring performances. Here, it is almost the same. But Fuqua goes down the same emaciated path of familiarity and, despite Brooklyn's Finest's ability to draw you in, the conflict fires out the same bullets and only recoils to melodramatic dialogue and luke warm action pieces. For Fuqua this time, it's two times too many.
The milieu, of course, is Brooklyn. It has that gloominess like the '20s film noir auras and the people are either cops or thugs. But really, in this world who is innocent? According to Brooklyn's Finest, no one. Sal (Ethan Hawke) is trying to raise his growing family. His wife has a bun in the oven and it's time for Sal to do some dirty work to earn some extra dough. Cop's don't earn shit in this city, he reclaims, the city refuses to recognize us. His point is wholeheartedly true, the dour copy-paste statement even more so. The other guilty as charged cop is Eddie, a coming-of-age alcoholic who spends more time screwing his prostitute acquaintance than apprehending suspects. Across the street, you have Tango (Don Cheadle) an undercover cop doing a dance with Caz (Wesley Snipes). They're long time partners in crime. Caz is trying to buy his way out of the hood and little does he know, Tango wants out of being undercover. They indeed hold cumbersome secrets topped with overly familiar conflict. But they elevate this bromantic triteness through their upholding performances, in which you not only understand these characters's thoughts, but you can sympathize with them. That's the best subplot in the movie.
Fuqua's eye for capturing the streets is transcendent yet histrionic. Where Training Day was like the R Rated Crime version of Driving Miss Daisy, that film really rectified into a league of its own. Here, the streets are lowly lit, sirens blare, culprits roam, and cops navigate. It's not that acting is too theatrical, it's just that everything else is. These characters surround very constructed environments. Gangsters stand in the corners, cars whizz by ominously, we get it. This is a neighbourhood where no one can be trusted. Ironically, in Brooklyn's Finest, we can trust the gangsters more than the cops. Caz and Tango have a noble allegiance, since Caz saved Tango's life a few years ago. Unfortunately, this subplot doesn't tap in on Tango's consciousness. Does this job stress him? The only clue we get is that typical one-lining exasperated request: "I want out!" Clearly the script is not this film's strong point.
But was I entertained? Yes and you will be too. Brooklyn's Finest just diminishes itself on its provocative repetitive genre. Everything here is served as left overs, there's nothing new and nothing really fresh. Don't expect a fancy dessert either because the climax falls under a revenge gunfight, where the body count tries to match Departed territory, but lessens in its inferior shock value.
We get Fuqua's message at the end. No matter how hard you search, there will always only be injustice. Crime doesn't necessarily rule but neither does the law. Ending the last shot on a freeze frame, Fuqua's film ends way too ambiguously. Does the shot pose that this is the character who made it? Is he the hero? According to all these characters's motives, no one really 'makes it.' To remain buoyant in these streets, there needs to be sacrifice. Have I convinced enough that Fuqua's conclusion is revelatory? I shouldn't have, because it isn't. As much as Brooklyn's Finest cares to entertain you and draw you into the conflict, that nasty cheated feeling will emerge telling you that you've seen this before. Counter me with saying that that's just the way this life is. Well, if so, explain to me that absurd final showdown in the film, in which all these remorseful characters cross paths. Suddenly, Brooklyn's Finest strives for Crash territory. That sequence, unlike Crash, plays as folly coincidence, and alas, Fuqua finally forgets that he should stick to what he's good at.
I SAY--Rent It.