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The Glass Shield struggles under the weight of its worthy themes, but emerges as a flawed yet powerful look at systemic racism in modern America. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Rookie cop J.J. (Michael Boatman) is the first black officer in his squad. Befriending fellow outsider Deborah (Lori Petty), J.J. has a tough time adjusting to the force's good-old-boy camaraderie. Initially turning a blind eye to hints of racism in order to fit in, J.J. find it harder to ignore the corruption when an illegal search leads to the arrest of Teddy Woods (Ice Cube) on questionable murder charges. As J.J. delves deeper into the case, he risks losing his job -- or his life.

Cast & Crew

Michael Boatman
Johnny `'J.J.'` Johnson
Lori Petty
Dep. Deborah Fields
Ice Cube
Teddy Woods
Don Harvey
Deputy Jack Bono
Natalia Nogulich
Judge Helen Lewis
Ned Eddie Johnson
Writer
Ned Welsh
Writer
Chet Walker
Executive Producer
Stephen James Taylor
Original Music
Elliot Davis
Cinematographer
Penny Barrett
Production Design
Joel Carter
Art Direction
Lisa Boutillier
Set Decoration
Gaye Shannon-Burnett
Costume Designer
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News & Interviews for The Glass Shield

Critic Reviews for The Glass Shield

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (15) | Rotten (8)

  • Ambition is something to respect in an artist, but Charles Burnett's police-corruption drama The Glass Shield is such a maladroit piece of filmmaking that its weighty themes and sclerotic tangle of a plot end up making it a trial to sit through.

    July 6, 2010 | Rating: D | Full Review…
  • A powerful moral drama that tries to deal with the racism at the root of many problems in contempo American society.

    March 26, 2009
  • The movie feels sketchy, as if Burnett chopped the flesh off his screenplay and left us only the bare bones.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
  • Burnett uses a socially discomforting scenario that has only vague implications of deeper malice to initiate a brave portrayal of a Caucasian-centric sort of martial law.

    August 29, 2005 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • It's a rigorous, angry piece of work, but it misses out on the psychological depths that have made Burnett's previous films among the glories of recent American independent moviemaking.

    February 13, 2001 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Burnett's screenplay has a tendency to be a little too preachy, especially during the unsatisfying final scene. There's a fine line between getting the message across through subtlety and becoming didactic...

    January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Ambition is something to respect in an artist, but Charles Burnett's police-corruption drama The Glass Shield is such a maladroit piece of filmmaking that its weighty themes and sclerotic tangle of a plot end up making it a trial to sit through.

    July 6, 2010 | Rating: D | Full Review…
  • A powerful moral drama that tries to deal with the racism at the root of many problems in contempo American society.

    March 26, 2009
  • The movie feels sketchy, as if Burnett chopped the flesh off his screenplay and left us only the bare bones.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
  • Burnett uses a socially discomforting scenario that has only vague implications of deeper malice to initiate a brave portrayal of a Caucasian-centric sort of martial law.

    August 29, 2005 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • While it carries an unavoidable social charge, the movie never feels dogmatic or moralistic.

    October 18, 2018 | Full Review…
  • An angry anti-cop message flick directed and written to be subversive by angry LA based indie filmmaker Charles Burnett.

    March 15, 2013 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Glass Shield

  • Jun 01, 2011
    A pretty good Police Drama about how once again the white man has done the black man wrong. Still Story line worth 4 stars
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • May 03, 2011
    This is a gritty police story of crime and corruption in the police force based partially on a true story revolving around a young black cop J.J. Johnson (MICHEAL BOATMAN), the first black officer who is sent to an all-white Los Angeles station for his first assignment. The black rookie encounters not-so-subtle racism and at first tries to fit in by covering up certain corrupt practices within his department but then he is drawn into a plot to falsify evidence against a supposed murderer (ICE CUBE). He is teamed up with Lori Petty, the only female deputy who helps J.J in his investigation. As a much deeper conspiracy is uncovered, J.J and Petty tries to uncover the truth behind the false prosecution of Ice Cube and finds themselves trapped between the wheels of the conspirators and the legal system, both of which they are sworn to serve. Great cast of actors including Richard Anderson, M. Emmet Walsh, Bernie Casey (is good as Ice Cube's lawyer) and Elliott Gould and Michael Ironside who is chilling as one of the corrupt officers!
    Deb S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2010
    Not sparkling. Very run of the mill.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 03, 2007
    the worst ending in movie history
    danny d Super Reviewer

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