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Thursday, March 4, 2010 06:12 am

Fuqua’s Brooklyn finest film of the new year

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Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and first-time screenwriter Michael C. Martin pull off an interesting feat with their gripping film Brooklyn’s Finest. They take tired cop film conventions and make them all seem fresh once more by injecting them with a sense of grit and realism that immediately sets this movie apart from others in the genre. Reminiscent of the hard-edged cinema of the 1970s, Finest is a character study of three cops – each of them at their breaking point – whose lives converge in unexpected and tragic ways.

Eddie (Richard Gere) is one week from retirement and he makes no effort to hide the fact that’s he’s burnt out and disillusioned. Sal (Ethan Hawke) is deep in debt and desperate to get his family a new home, going so far as considering pocketing drug money whenever it crosses his path. Tango (Don Cheadle) is deep undercover and has been there so long he’s starting to sympathize with those he’s suppose to bring in, especially Caz (Wesley Snipes), a recently released con who his superiors have targeted.

Shot on location during one of the hottest New York summers on record, Fuqua presents these mean streets as sordid locales where life is cheap, death is common and deception a means to survival. The four principals leave nothing on the table, investing their characters with a degree of desperation that’s palpable. These four actors elicit our sympathy and the emotional investment we have in them is immediate and lasts throughout the film. Credit Fuqua with steadily increasing the tension throughout, leading to a shattering, haunting climax. Edgy, daring and unafraid to examine complex moral issues, Brooklyn’s Finest is a welcome throwback to mature Hollywood filmmaking, making it the best film of the new year.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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