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Movies/TV Last Updated: Apr 30th, 2010 - 13:39:02


Dark Crimes...
By Esther Iverem—SeeingBlack.com Editor and Film Critic
Mar 5, 2010, 13:07

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Though "Brooklyn’s Finest" might be dismissed easily as yet another cop movie, it has several strong points that raise it above what we have come to expect from this graft and guns blazing genre.


The visually arresting handprint of director Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day," "Bait") are all over this flick. The largest borough of America’s largest city is awash in pale, cold hues, which put an exclamation point on the hard business at hand—survival for both cops and criminals in the unforgiving world of drugs, illicit cash and too-easy murder.


The cold glare also accentuates the dark hue of all the Brooklyn criminals, including Caz, played by Wesley Snipes, some alum from “The Wire,” including Michael K. Williams (Omar) and the lone undercover officer, Tango, played by Don Cheadle. As cast, lit and scripted, the film makes a strong case for the idea that no one, other than someone who looks like Cheadle, could actually be believable as a criminal, and so accepted into the drug ring and also accepted, their terribleness, by us viewers. Is dark the color of my true criminal’s skin? But there are other visual markers as well. As one White police officer named Sal, played by Ethan Hawke, sits at confessional, the screen separating him and the priest makes him look almost like a spotted animal—perhaps fitting, since we know that Sal has just committed murder.


Writer Michael C. Martin, who wrote for the gritty Showtime series “Sleeper Cell,” delivers emotionally complex characters in his feature film debut Money rules here; both criminals and some officers want it by any means necessary. “Brooklyn’s Finest” certainly does not glorify criminals or cops. In fact, it delves into the muck of human weakness, apathy, cruelty and ego on both sides of the law. It may not be satisfying for those seeking a triumph over one side or another or characters who are all good or bad.


In case you’re wondering, Snipes makes an excellent return to the screen after his time in jail for tax evasion. In the story, his character has also just gotten out of jail Even if Black audiences have a love-hate relationship with Snipes, the camera still loves him. He is one of the veteran actors here, including Cheadle, Hawke, Richard Gere. Ellen Barkin and Will Patton that add to this film’s substance and keep it from veering too far into the cheap realm of been-there, done-that cop movies.


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