Dark Blue Reviews
Director Ron Shelton, stepping way outside of his comfort zone, has done just that and he shows a real flair for the genre after spending most of his career making sports movies. Still, Kurt Russell is the star here, and it's nice to see such a dependable actor get such a great part and do so much with it. He could have very easily taken it over the top and turned Detective Eldon Perry into a demented lunatic, but he keeps his performance and character grounded. He's not evil, he's simply doing his job the way he was trained by his family before him. When he finally makes amends at his promotion ceremony at the end, it's a great moment.
There are far too many needless subplots that tend to take the viewer out of the moment, mostly involving personal relationship's such as Russell's marriage breaking up, but screenwriter David Ayer wisely updated the film to be set against the backdrop of the Rodney King trial. That really gives the film a sense of urgency and immediacy, and once the verdict is reached, the finale is that much more explosive. I'm not sure how accurate it is having only seen the riots on the nightly news, but in this picture, they sure feel accurate.
"Dark Blue" is pretty typical of the police thriller genre, but it has its own story to tell and it does so with skill and packs a couple of hard-hitting punches.
Now Dark Blue does come off as a little confusing in the first 10-15 minutes. It then however, settles down to tell its story in a brilliant sort of way that an audience member can not think too hard and be massively entertained at the same time. Based on a short story by crime novelist James Ellroy concerning the famous Rodney King trial and serving as a backdrop to the L.A. riots of 1992, "Blue" makes its case as a character study for Russell, his superior officer (commander Jack Van Meter played Brendan Gleeson who specializes in cold, heartless types), and his nervous young partner (detective Bobby Keough played by Underworld's Scott Speedman). Russell's character and Speedman's character take orders from Van Meter who on the side, has two street thugs regularly steal safes and murder for him (the murders aren't the main intention, it's about the money). In return, he lets them stay out of jail therefore putting the burden of having said detectives (Keough and Perry) find, shoot, and arrest similar suspects who had nothing to do with the crimes. As the film carries on, Perry (Russell) along with Keough (Speedman) have epiphanies and start to question their overall motives. Meanwhile, assistant chief Arthur Holland (played by a powerfully gentle Ving Rhames) is trying to crack the whole internal investigation wide open and expose any corrupt doings within the department.
This is a smooth, intricately woven plot machine. As I viewed it for a second time, I was heavily reminded of 2001's Training Day. Both films are similar in their examination of the misguided, fallen nature of L.A.'s finest. In terms of the lead, Russell plays a sort of less nastier version of Denzel Washington's Alonzo Harris. Even the endings of these films seem sort of familiar. Both actors in each movie spout off soliloquies and speeches when their vehicles reach their conclusions. The difference with Dark Blue is that it's a lot less bloody and it deals more with moral issues minus the over-the-top gratuitous violence (just call it Training Day lite). Yes, Training Day is also very good. But "Blue" goes deeper and exhausts you as the viewer, in different, more thought-provoking ways.
One of my favorite things I like to do as a critic, is find motion pictures that are vastly underrated and painfully overlooked by other critics and the movie going public. Dark Blue may be one of the most underrated films I have ever seen. It came out at the wrong time of the year (March of 2003 in the U.S.), wasn't marketed terribly well, and as a result, tanked at the box office. The fact that it hasn't grown a mild cult following also has me scratching my head. Bottom line: If you haven't seen this masterpiece, please do so. It makes you question how police work gets done, it forecasts a harrowing sense of dread from the opening scene re-shown and hour and a half later, it has sequences in which Ron Shelton puts you right in the middle of L.A.'s terrifying South Central mind field, and it has Russell plowing his way through "Blue" like a bull in a china shop. All in all, Dark Blue is a gem, a revelation and one "dark" film indeed.
also stars Brendan Gleeson, Michael Michele, Lolita Davidovich, Dash Mihok, Kurupt and Master P.
directed by Ron Shelton.
Dark Blue follows various cops torn between right and wrong on a case of a quadruple murder. As simplistic as that sounds, there are various twists and turns along the way; some surprising and unexpected and others blandly predictable.
The casting for this movie was great. It was very good to see Kurt Russell in a film seen as his appearances run years between. Along with Kurt Russell is Ving Rhames, Scott Speedman & Brendan Gleeson. Kurt Russell is on GREAT form as the morally corrupted cop, Scott Speedman brought a good performance as the young cop unsure of his corrupt colleagues.
Along with the great cast, the story is great as previously mentioned and as plain, boring and un-original as it sounds it really is quite unpredictable and entertaining. Think Narc but less dark but more entertaining.
The film runs around the two hour mark which sounds like overkill for a cop film, but actually it fits quite well although some parts were in there for the sake of time filling and could have easily been left out and it wouldn't have taken away from the film's greatness. Although, the film wouldn't be nearly as good without Kurt Russell. He brings the charisma, the entertainment and the controversy. By controversy, I mean that his character is morally corrupt and often acts outside the law but paints a picture so it was self defence for example.
Overall, there isn't much more to say about Dark Blue that hasn't already been mentioned. There are great performances, a better than average story with a few good twists and a good running time. Dark Blue is well worth your time if you like these kinds of dark police drama films.