Brooklyn's Finest (2009) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Three unconnected Brooklyn cops wind up at the same deadly location after enduring vastly different career paths.

  • In Brooklyn, amid drug deals, violence, casual racism, poverty, housing projects, and corrupt cops, we follow three officers: Tango, African-American, working undercover, believing he's earned a promotion to a desk job but told he has to set up the bust of an ex-con who saved his life; Sal, who'll commit murder to get cash; and, Eddie, the precinct's oldest beat cop, a week to go before retirement, assigned to mentor an earnest rookie. Can this end well for any of the three?

  • Not knowing each other except perhaps by face, Eddie Dugan, Sal Procida and Clarence Butler work for the NYPD based out of the 65th Precinct in Brooklyn. Facing imminent retirement, Eddie, a beat cop, long ago became disillusioned with the job, it being nothing as he had hoped when he was a rookie. As such, he has led what what is considered an unremarkable career, with most of his fellow officers viewing him with derision. He has no friends, with his only emotional human connection being to Chantal, a prostitute he frequents. Solely because of he being senior man, he, in his last week of work, is assigned to a new program, where he is to take out rookie officers on patrol to acclimatize them to the job. This assignment may not lead to the outcome the program administrators had hoped due to his overall view of police work. Sal, a narc, is facing problems at home: he and his wife Angela live in a small and thus overcrowded house with their four children with another two on the way, with the house itself having mold problems which is negatively affecting Angela's pregnancy. On his primary focus of buying a bigger, mold-free house, Sal, who is facing an imminent deadline for a suitable house without the money for the down payment, has been pilfering money from drug raids, he not averse to shooting to kill to obtain those moneys without detection by his fellow narcs. Clarence has been deep undercover for two years in the drug squad, he known on the street as a dealer named Tango. He wants out of undercover work as this job has led to the dissolution of his marriage, and as he feels increasing empathy for his drug dealer associates, especially as he has seen police corruption in the way that they deal with the drug issue. His handler, Lieutenant Bill Hobarts, under the direction of ambitious federal Agent Smith, lets Clarence write his own ticket out of UC if he helps give up fellow dealer, Casanova Phillips, who "Tango" considers a true friend, especially as Cas once saved his life. As the three officers deal with their respective issues, their professional lives intersect, their encounters which will fundamentally alter their individual life course.

  • Eddie Dugan (Richard Gere) is days away from retirement, but he's been burnt-out for years. Unable to remember why he signed up for the job in the first place, all Eddie can think about is retreating to his fishing cabin in Connecticut, and forgetting the horrors that he's seen during his decades on the job. At the same time, undercover narcotics cop Clarence "Tango" Butler (Don Cheadle) is right in the thick of it. As hard as he tries to quit, however, his superiors always find a way of keeping him on the job. Much like Dugan, he's lost sight of his priorities, and these days Tango's loyalties seem to lie more with notorious inner-city drug dealer Caz (Wesley Snipes) than with the boys in blue. And Tango isn't the only cop who's being drawn to the dark side of the law; narcotics officer Sal Procida's (Ethan Hawke) wife is currently pregnant with twins, and he's barely making enough to keep his family afloat. When Sal learns that his wife is at risk of losing their unborn children, desperation drives him to consider unethical means of ensuring financial stability. In seven days, the lives of all three officers will converge at one crime scene as the NYPD attempts to clean up the BK projects, the epicenter of lawlessness in the highest-crime precinct.

  • In Brooklyn, New York, the veteran policeman Eddie is a bitter and disillusioned lonely man who is to retire in seven days. The catholic dirty detective Sal is a family man in despair and needs to raise money to buy a better house for his family. The undercover detective, Tango, is affected by amount of time he spent as an undercover agent infiltrating gangs and has requested to be transferred to an office job. Their lives and fates are entwined when Eddie retires and sees a missing girl who has been kidnapped by sex traffickers and he has to make a crucial decision.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The film opens with Sal (Ethan Hawke), a cop, talking to Carlo (Vincent D'Onofiro) about a traffic stop in which Carlo was pulled over for drunk driving. Carlo explains to Sal that he was in a bar fight and thought that the people in the bar were going to kill him. He left intoxicated and was pulled over. Carlo further explains that when in front of a judge, he explained the situation to him, and the judge's rebuttal to his statement was there are "righter" and "wronger". He was right for leaving the bar in haste, but he was wrong for driving drunk. Sal laughs with Carlo and then...BANG! Sal shoots him in the face. He reacts to Carlo's body, almost vomiting at his action. Sal grabs a bloody paper bag, filled with money, and leaves.

    We then see Eddie Dugan, a cop on the verge of retirement and suicide waking up. He pours a shot of whiskey for himself and then puts an unloaded service revolver in his mouth and pulls the trigger. He continues on with his daily routine of getting ready. We then see news footage of a shooting in Brooklyn's project houses of a mother grieving over the death of her young son, who was killed by a cop.

    After seeing that, we are introduced to Tango (Don Cheadle), an undercover cop who infiltrated a major drug ring in Brooklyn. He meets with Red, a gangster friend and C-Rayz, another gangster. The three go into a crack den and drug operation located in one of the apartments in the projects. Tango looks outside the windows to see the place is crawling with police officers due to the young boy being killed.

    Sal is in confession, confessing the murder that he committed saying that it was justified because he was a bad guy but it was also for the money that he stole from him. The priest says that we are all imperfect creatures and we need to pray for God's forgiveness. Sal exclaims, "I don't want God's forgiveness. I want his fucking help." The priest is taken aback and Sal apologizes for his language and attitude before saying a Hail Mary to repent his sin. He storms out of the church. Sal then goes to the precinct to punch in for work, where he sees Ronny (Brian F. O'Byrne), his best friend. Sal and Ronny, along with the others in the Narc team are debriefed by the captain about Brooklyn and how it is crowned the number one crime precinct in the state. Sal and Ronny converse when Sal asks about Carlo. Ronny says they found him dead. Sal, nonchalantly, asks if they have any leads.

    Eddie is in the locker room, getting ready to walk the beat when two policemen, both nasty to him, confront him and poke fun at him. Eddie laughs it off because he doesn't care anymore because he is retiring. One cop confronts Eddie, rather violently, but is restrained by the other. Eddie marks off another day from the calendar. Eddie is told by his commanding officer that he needs to break a couple rookies in during his last days on the job. Eddie takes it, begrudgingly, saying that he only has a couple more days on the job. The CO tells him to do something good with the last couple hours on the job.

    Tango meets with his UC contact, Bill Hobarts (Will Patton) at a diner. Tango wants his life back along with his wife, who has already signed divorce papers. Bill tells him that he is working on it. Tango tells Bill that he is in too deep. During a traffic stop in which Tango was pulled over, he felt the need to kill the cop because Red was carrying a pistol and drugs on him. But, he didn't and was let go because of who he is. Tango again, tells Bill, that he needs his life back.

    Eddie rides with a rookie around the Brooklyn projects. The rookie, Melvin, is eager to tell Eddie his life story but Eddie could careless. Eddie stops by a store to pick up a fishing rod because his plan is to go live in Connecticut after he retires and fish. The Rookie sees a woman being slapped by a man and attempts to stop it when Eddie intervenes, telling him that it isn't their district. Melvin becomes pissed off and over zealous about this and doesn't want to talk to Eddie anymore.

    Tango tries to call his wife, but finds that there is no one there to pick up. He sees his car getting ticketed by the meter maid and throws a glass bottle at cart the meter maid is driving and tells him to get a real job.

    Sal arrives home to his four kids and pregnant wife, Angie. He tells his kids that they are getting a new house and all. Sal goes to the basement to see that he spoke too soon when finding out that Carlo didn't have all the money, only half. He hides the money and washes the blood off of his hands. Angela and Sal talk about their new house that Sal has lined up. Angela is pregnant with twins and has asthma. The wood mold in the house is slowly killing her and the twins, which is prompting Sal to get the new house. He calls up the sales agent that is handling the house and tells her that he has the money to put on the down payment.

    Tango is entering in a club where he sees his old friend, Caz (Wesley Snipes). Caz and Tango hug and talk out on a roof about business and how Caz wants back into the business after being incarcerated for 7 years. Tango, after almost being killed in prison where he was undercover for two years, was saved by Caz, which explains their friendship.

    Eddie is in Chinatown, seeing a prostitute named Chantel. Eddie is outside, approaching the building to see a thug getting a drugged out prostitute in a car. The Thug looks to Eddie and then moves to the car. Eddie, knowing something shady was going on, continues into the building. He has sex with the prostitute and sits down at a table after. Chantel talks to Eddie about his life, and then decides to give him oral sex while he tells her about his life and how depressed he is.

    Sal prays with his kids and reflects how the prayer before his kids sleeping affects him to the core. He knows he needs this new house.

    We then cut to the crack house apartment where Randy, a teenage drug dealer, is leaving the apartment. Sal and a group of Narc officers grab him and tell him to show them up. They do and the apartment is raided. Sal looks throughout the apartment for money and sees a man running away from the building. He follows and catches him only to find out that he is clean and just ran because he was scared. Sal lets him go.

    Tango meets with Bill and meets Smith (Ellen Barkin), a hard-nosed bitch aiming for Chief of police. She tells him that they need Caz in jail, to Tango's despise, and he knows that he must do it. She promises him that if Caz is put away then Tango gets Detective First Grade. Tango agrees and then leaves.

    Sal plays poker with his friends in his basement. Ronny and Sal talk about taking drug money. While Ronny says he would never, Sal says that he doesn't care because it doesn't go anywhere but the evidence room. Ronny says that he is bullshitting but Sal doesn't respond to it. One of the cops there makes a racist comment and Sal punches him. The cop says that he would take a bullet for Sal and asks why he did that. Sal and Ronny talk, both trying to calm down. Sal says that he doesn't have money for twins and Ronny says that he is blessed and that him and his wife cannot have kids.

    An intercepting sequence starts between the three cops.

    Eddie is riding with a new rookie and sees that Melvin has gone with another cop all together.

    Tango and Caz meet with Red on the roof to see that they are beating Randy for information about the bust.

    Sal and Ronny are at the hospital with Angie and is told that one of the twins is in jeopardy because of the wood mold. Sal and Ronny leave the hospital to go on another raid.

    Eddie and The Rookie respond to a shoplifting call, which is escalating between the suspect (a 15 year old kid) and victim.

    Red beats the hell out of Randy for information and threatens to burn his eyes out with a cigarette. Caz stops him.

    Sal enters a convenience store with the Narc team to make a drug bust.

    Eddie leaves the convenience store to run identifications on both the suspect and victim. While out, The Rookie loses control of the situation and tries to subdue the suspect but accidentally shoots two rounds off inches from his face.

    Sal and Ronny bust the drug den and in the midst of the violence, Sal saves Ronny's life while attempting to steal drug money for himself.

    Caz tells Red to let Randy go. Red questions Tango when he tries to diffuse the situation but Tango pistol whips him and tells him to back up or he'll be the one thrown off the roof.

    Eddie is in with Internal Affairs about the shooting and is asked to say that it was a drug related incident to make the precinct look better. He declines and tells them to "fuck off". They cannot legally do anything because he is retiring.

    Sal, hearing a voice mail on his phone, is informed that the real estate office must put the house on the market and can only wait another day. Ronny approaches him and thanks him. But, Sal says that he if he thought twice he wouldn't have lifted a finger for him and to stop thanking him.

    Tango is on the docks talking to Caz about getting out of the game. Tango says that there are two people up town that he needs to talk to about a big deal, after that he says that Caz should disappear. The two people are undercover cops and Tango is setting him up, unbeknownst to Caz. Caz says to make the deal.

    Tango, at his apartment, looks at a lock box with his pistol, badge and pictures of his wife in it. He puts a memory stick in his card and sets it up so it can record the conversation.

    At the bar, Caz meets with Tango's fellow undercover cops and they make the deal. Tango goes to the bathroom and smashes the phone, pissed off that he is doing this.

    Eddie is on the last day and is in the middle of surrendering his badge. He takes it and sees that his badge means nothing as it is thrown into a cardboard box along with dozens of others.

    Tango calls Bill and says that he is out of the case and he is off of it. Bill says that it doesn't matter anymore because the Feds are closing in on Caz. Tango leaves his apartment to look for him.

    Tango finds Caz playing chess in the streets and explains to him that he cannot make the deal. Caz is confused by this, but before Tango can tell him...BANG!, BANG!, BANG!, Caz is shot and killed by Red in a drive by shooting. Tango goes to meet with Bill after the shooting, pissed off to see that police were all there to just watch Caz die. Tango yells at Smith and attacks her after a racist comment. Bill restrains him and tells him that he might have screwed himself out of Detective. Smith, impressed says that he didn't and should have made him sergeant. Bill tells Tango to take his life back but he knows that he can't.

    Eddie meets with Chantel to see her with a "client". He waits outside and sees that the "client" was a cop. He moves into her place to see her cleaning herself. She gives him a gold watch and he asks her to come to Connecticut with her but she refuses and tells him to get out. He does so, hurt. He sits in his car, loads his gun with one bullet and then...

    Eddie sees The Thug again, moving three women into a panel van. Eddie recognizes one of the girls as a Missing Person posted on the bulletin in the precinct. He follows the van.

    Tango is preparing himself to make an attack on Red.

    Sal gets information for a crack den in the apartment complex where LOTS of money is. He takes the information and goes with it. Ronny follows him and says that he should be grateful for what he has, but he doesn't listen. Sal shoots out Ronny's tires so he can't follow him and continues on.

    Eddie gets to the Brooklyn Projects to see the three women being unloaded from the van.

    Tango gets to the Brooklyn Projects and moves into the building seeing Randy outside, waiting on any deals and saying hi to Tango and saying that what happened to Caz was messed up.

    Sal is seen by Randy at the same Brooklyn Project and is confused to see a white cop with a gun in that area.

    Tango takes the elevator ride down.

    Sal prays in a separate elevator in the other building.

    Eddie approaches the apartment with the kidnapped girls in it.

    The elevator doors open to see Sal leaving and going to Apartment 5B, where the money is.

    Red, C-Rayz and another Thug stand by the elevator when it opens up, Tango fires a round into the Thug's chest and shoots Red in the gut. Red races off. C-Rayz says that he doesn't have any beef with Tango and tells him to "do what you gotta do". Tango follows a blood trail left by Red.

    Sal breaks into the apartment and kills the three Thugs in it and searches for the money. He looks throughout the apartment and then sees the Washer and it is not plugged in. He opens it to find a million in cash. He is stuffing the money in every pocket he has and then, BANG! BANG! BANG! Sal takes a last drag of a cigarette and then falls to the floor, bullet wounds in his chest. He chokes on blood and then looks to see Randy holding the pistol. He chokes on the blood and then dies.

    Eddie approaches the apartment with the girls and waits for a naked thug to leave the room to take a shower.

    Tango moves out into the streets, gun in hand, following Red. Red tells him that he didn't want to kill Tango and that Caz was getting soft. Tango says that he is a cop and that Red shouldn't have killed Caz. Red asks "Are you gonna gun me down in the streets?" Tango replies coldly, "Yeah." Tango unloads an entire clip into Red and reloads to fire more when BANG! Tango is shot through the back. He turns around and is shot again by Ronny. Ronny moves to the body and sees that it is a cop and yells for someone to call 911.

    Ronny enters the apartment 5B to see Sal dead. He cries at the sight of him dead, surrounded by bloody money.

    Eddie enters in the apartment and frees the girls. The half-naked thug tries to stop him but Eddie handcuffs him to the space heater on the wall. The kidnapping thug enters the apartment and Eddie shoots him in the chest. The thug doesn't die and attacks Eddie, throwing him around like a rag doll. He pins Eddie against a shelf, when Eddie grabs a zip tie and strangle and locks it on to the thugs throat, so he chokes to death.

    The police crawl around the scene, two cops dead, and four gangsters. Eddie walks away from the scene, beaten but still alive.

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