Written by former New York City transit worker Michael C. Martin, “Brooklyn’s Finest” is another exercise in cop corruption by Antoine Fuqua, following his Denzel Washington Oscar vehicle, “Training Day.” It is the simultaneous chronicling of a week in the lives of three cops working the inner city streets of the 65th Precinct.
Despite the presence of high-profile celebrity actors (Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle, Wesley Snipes), “Finest” is not short on authenticity, what with the use of actual locations and gang members. Questionability may be in order regarding the film’s basic and unrelenting premise that Brooklyn’s Finest are underpaid and under pressure so intense that they’re all on the verge of a major meltdown.
A recent published report quotes a real-life Brooklyn detective throwing a wet blanket on the film’s dramatic license. He speculates that if Hollywood was to portray only honest cops, movies would bomb at the box office.
The audience for movies about morally rotten police don’t have to worry here. “Brooklyn’s Finest” has plenty of corruption to spare.
The father of seven with twins on the way, Sal (Hawke) is a narcotics detective jumping into every drug raid, with hopes of grabbing any available cash stashed in the post-shoot-out back rooms of the dead and dying dealers.
Tango (Cheadle) is an undercover cop with too-close ties to just-out-of-jail kingpin Caz (Snipes), who once saved his life. Setting up Caz for a sting would secure Tango a detective position, but his loyalty and devotion to the drug lord makes him think twice.
A veteran flat-foot Eddie (Gere) is the least corrupt, though the most miserable, though he’s only days from his long-awaited retirement. He’s also moments away from taking a pistol from his glove compartment and blowing his brains out. Eddie has an undistinguished career and no family. His only relief is a favorite prostitute Chantel (Shannon Kane) who, he discovers, is the favorite of some of his cop colleagues as well. These scenes of the sad reality of the world’s oldest profession is a flip side to the Gere glamour hit, “Pretty Woman.”
The three stories converge and culminate in a blood bath at the public housing projects which are not faring so well in recent movies (“Precious,”
The Blind Side”).
Fuqua and Martin are obviously in touch with the filth of the city streets. However, they seem to think that no one, cops included, can avoid being sucked into the sewer. While this makes for absorbingly sordid entertainment, it may be at the expense of the whole truth about Brooklyn’s Finest.