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Brooklyn’s Finest

Good Cop, Bad Cop

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

It’s not surprising that Brooklyn’s Finest director Antoine Fuqua also helmed Training Day. Both films dwell on cop culture and blurring between cop and criminal. Focusing on multiple characters as they intersect around Brooklyn’s Projects, it’s a fine film that offers few new insights into the genre.

The film’s quasi-protagonists are Eddie (Richard Gere), Tango (Don Cheadle) and Sal (Ethan Hawke). Each character is struggling in their personal and professional lives as police offers, especially as the two become inextricable.

This is especially true for Tango, who’s deep undercover as a gang leader. Essentially living a double life, he’s counting the days until he’s off the streets and behind a desk. However, his perspective changes when his co-leader and good friend Caz (Wesley Snipes) is released from prison after an appeal. He’s finding his life increasingly at a crossroads, as he has to choose his life with Caz over his life as a cop.

Like Tango, Sal is also struggling with his morals. Raising an ever-expanding family, he needs to find a bigger house for everyone. His pregnant wife is also suffering from mold-induced asthma, adding immediacy to his problem. To cover the down payment he’s resorted to sneaking cash from drug busts, despite the direct contradiction to his job and his morals. The stress of committing a crime while trying to provide for his family leads him down a morally ambiguous path.

Finally there’s Eddie, the most inactive of the bunch. It’s exactly this ambivalence toward his job and life in general that propels him toward an unsatisfying retirement. What he hopes to be an uneventful last week is thwarted when he’s enlisted to help train rookies. Working alongside new recruits illuminates his apathetic view of being a cop. However, after an incident a fire is sparked within him and as retirement is imminent he finally rises to the occasion.

If these stories sound similar to that in Training Day, it’s because they are. That doesn’t mean that Brooklyn’s Finest doesn’t set itself apart from Fuqua’s earlier hit. This is a character weave, but it ultimately asks the same questions he raised in his former film. Do cops have a moral obligation? Are they allowed to turn a blind eye like many do? It asks what being a cop means and how to reconcile being one as an otherwise unremarkable human being. Fuqua’s strength is his impeccable editing and stressful suspense. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t raise that extra bar.