Director Antoine Fuqua returns to crime drama with the ultra-hardcore and gritty "Brooklyn's Finest". It's been ten years since the success of "Training Day" and he's definitely ramped it up a notch. The film tells parallel stories of three cops in a crime-ridden Brooklyn precinct. Richard Gere (Eddie), in his best performance in years, is seven days from retirement and counting down each minute. Ethan Hawke (Sal) is a narcotics cop with three kids and twins on the way. Desperate for a bigger house, he starts stealing money and killing the local drug dealers. Then there's Don Cheadle (Tango), a cop who's been undercover so long, he's losing his identity and former life. When his infiltrated gang leader (Wesley Snipes) get's out of prison, his loyalties to the police and his friend are tested. Their dark storylines run separately until a fateful night in the projects.
Fuqua scoops up the grime off the street and slimes it on the screen. The violence is quick, bloody, and brutal. Brooklyn's Finest is not an action film. There are no epic gun battles, kung fu fights, or five minute car chases. It's an anthem of street violence, where drugs, theft, and prostitution are a way of life. And the cops and crooks kill each other on a daily basis. It's also refreshing to see a movie where gun play and death are not glorified.
The character acting here is excellent, especially from Richard Gere. I didn't think he had it in him to play this kind of character. Eddie, burnt out and wounded from a lifetime of being a cop, has become a laughing stock to others. Casually dismissed, he spends his nights with a hooker and contemplating suicide. But the difference between Eddie, Sal, and Tango is that the lines are not blurred. Eddie has been chewed up by the game, but is really the sage of this film. He knows what's right, wrong, and the duty of a cop. This is Gere's best performance in years.
Brooklyn's Finest is an extreme film. These are fictional cops, but they face a truth that every real cop faces. How can you battle scum in the streets without losing perspective or cool, especially when you're making peanuts and the drug lords are making millions. The temptation to steal, kill, are there every moment. I was mesmerized by this film. Not to be missed, but not for the faint of heart or anyone looking for a weekend escape.