Brooklyn's Finest (2009) Poster

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the Righter and Wronger ways of genre film-making
Quinoa198416 March 2010
Antoine Fuqua aims high within the limitations he has for Brooklyn's Finest. By that I mean the film is fairly low-budget, or at least middle of the road (my guess is twenty million), and it was shot on location in Brooklyn and places around. He also has a script that has its share of clichés and potential pitfalls for cinematic treatment. It's surprising how well the film comes off with the elements, and they are ALL familiar: the cop just nearing retirement (Gere), on his way out, who has to shepherd a rookie through his first days on the; a corrupted cop (redundant mayhap) that is scrounging for any money he can on raids (Hawke) needs it for a slightly noble cause, a new house for his growing family; a cop undercover (Cheadle) has to choose promotion or loyalty with a criminal takedown on the horizon.

Three very recognizable types, and the tropes are there, at least on paper. But where Fuqua sets himself apart, as he did to a good if not great extent on Training Day, is to imbue importance (not pretentious but just enough for serious effect) in the direction of scenes, and in casting. The actors take material that could be trite and unconvincing and even stale post-Lumet-cop-movie stuff and make it their own, compelling and heartfelt, and true to the extent that the genre allows. There's real tragedy felt with Hawke's character, albeit he may overact just a bit in some scenes, since this corrupt cop wouldn't be so bad if he could get what he needs ("I don't want God's forgiveness, I want his help," he says in confession), and likewise real conflict with Cheadle's undercover, who has been embedded too long in the trenches, and wants to help the criminal who once saved his life (Wesley Snipes fantastic in an older, slightly wiser version of his character in New Jack City).

And then there's Gere. One almost forgets Gere's successes when he's starring in romantic-comedy junk like... well, what's he been in recently for starters. But then one looks at Unfaithful, Days of Heaven, The Hoax, I'm Not There, among some others, and one sees Gere is an underrated presence, a guy who when given material to shine in does very well as an everyman, more than just a typical pretty star. With his role as the on-his-way-out cop, he gives one of his best performances, worn and weary, but strong and good as a cop whenever he can see fit, who at one point makes a mistake that he won't cop to (watch Gere when he's interrogated about his rookie's mishap on a convenience store scuffle and it's something of genius work). It's intense and believable, and even tender and sorrowful work, like when Gere's character is around a prostitute he's fallen for.

Back to Fuqua though - this is a filmmaker who knows what he's working in, and wants to transcend it. Perhaps his idol for this kind of production was Sidney Lumet with his cop films: make something dramatic and tragic, and never lose the grit, but add panache with the directing. He knows the conventions and has to stick to them, sometimes for weaker or just expected effect. But watching his style in that last reel, when all three stories that have been going back and forth (ocassionally intertwined) come together at one project building. There's a scene where Hawke is personally raiding a place. Watch the camera in this scene, where it stays put in one spot for seemingly a minute. It could almost be a Tarantino move, something self-conscious but purposeful for the action, the psychology of the emotion of the scene. His work with better material would be astonishing. As it is, it's just good, inventive film-making.
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Could have been a classic
Simon_Says_Movies15 March 2010
Brooklyn's Finest is clichéd cop film only in setup, not in execution. The scripting and a plethora of strong performance elevate the familiar veins that make up the films structure. In fact, three of the most standard-order plot lines are utilized; and undercover cop who blurs the line between righteous and corrupt, a drug cop who exhibits no blurring in his corruption and an aging veteran slugging it through his last week on the job. These cops are played by Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawk and Richard Gere respectively and each gets equal screen time in a triple thread story that eventually converge on one fateful night.

Director Antoine Fuqua's latest treads a thin line between tragic and gritty and outright depressing. This is a gloomy film to be sure, everyone is either a cop, murderer, drug dealer or prostitute (sometimes many of the above) and there is no glimpse of sunshine, so to speak, in Fuqua's Brooklyn. I am a big fan of Fuqua, from his John Woo-esquire debut with The Replacement Killers to the classic cop drama Training Day, to the very underrated Bruce Willis war actionier Tears of the Sun, he is more than a competent auteur and always brings out solid performances from his leads.

Hawk (who plays the increasingly corrupt Sal) is perhaps the strongest of three leads, but Gere and Cheadle are very convincing in their roles as well. Unfortunately, despite the admirable development of these characters, the aforementioned ordinary narrative leaves little question about where their respective paths are headed. We also get a blazing comeback from the one and only Wesley Snipes as a criminal and friend of Cheadle's Tango. Rounding off the talented main players are Brian F. O'Byrne as Sal's fellow cop and friend and Will Patton as Tango's lone remaining contact to the just world he feels is fading away. As I have iterated many times, it is the stellar work from the key players that makes Brooklyn's Finest worth your time.

The drive behind these three cops is equally compelling. Sal has 5 kids (with 6 and 7 on the way) and is swimming in debt. Through a real-estate contact he sets up a deal to move his growing family to a larger house, only if he can get the big score of drug money he needs. As the date approaches for him to come up with the money he grows increasingly desperate. Gere's Eddie is a burnt-out cop who has all but lost respect for the job, and his fellow cops have all but lost respect for him. His only remaining duty is to escort a rookie around for his final 7 days but things go far less smoothly then he could have hoped. Finally there is Tango, a UC who has lost all his ties to the real world. His wife is filing for divorce and he wants to be made detective first grade a.s.a.p. and spend the remainder of his days behind a comfortable desk and away from a life of crime. In one of the best sequences, Tango is asked why the sudden urge to get out. He tells of a night where he was pulled over by the cops for speeding and legitimately considered killing them. He wants out.

If only the despair had been laid on a little less thick and the stereotypes that make up the three main characters polished with a bit more inventiveness, Brooklyn's Finest could have been a classic in the making. Instead we get only what we would expect; a gritty, bloody and well acted police actionier.

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Very well-rounded cop thriller
tha_mongoose14 March 2010
Brooklyn's Finest rests on the strong character portrayals of the lives of three ordinary men struggling at different points in their careers. What they each share is the New York Police Department as a workplace.

Life isn't perfect - it never is. We always have to give something up in order to do something else - it's called choice. Therein lies man's fatal freedom.

Sal (Ethan Hawke) gave up the possibility for flash when he became a cop. He has a growing family with numerous kids but lives in a decrepit, run-down house where the wood mold is causing his pregnant wife lung problems. His NYPD salary isn't sufficient for him to move to a different abode.

Can we judge him? It is a context that bears for some humanity from our part. He will do things in the film, but it is difficult for us to point our fingers from a high horse, for we aren't in his situation. Does the end justify the means?

While doing undercover work in prison, Tango (Don Cheadle) is saved from death by an inmate, Casanova Philips (Wesley Snipes). The event forms a bond between them. Now Casanova is back out and the force want Tango to send him back in.

By taking this shortcut to Detective first grade (read: becoming an undercover agent), Tango is forced to deal with harsh consequences, namely the fact that his wife is in the process of leaving him, and that other than Casanova he has no friends.

Eddie (Richard Gere) is retiring and is a morally decadent seemingly useless member of the force. He gets teased by his younger co-worker cops, and seems fed up with his life. We see him put a revolver to his mouth in the morning.

Even though he is 7 days away from retirement he must take care of young rookies, fresh faces new to the NYPD. Eddie doesn't get along well with them.

It is unclear what happened to his wife, but Eddie now seeks solace in the womanly comforts of a lowly Chinatown hooker.

These grotesquely authentic lives are laid out with the aid of a soundtrack that simultaneously sets the pace and follows the psychological states of the main protagonists. The tone of the music will change, for instance, when a particular character is in a tight situation, a situation where he is again confronted with choice.

All the actors in this film pull off magnificently intense portrayals. Especially worthy of mention are Cheadle, Snipes, Gere and Hawke -- who once again shows that he can enter the mind of a struggling cop like no other.

A steady-paced, involving thriller definitely worth a gander. 8/10.
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a respectable piece of work but unfortunately we've seen it all before
Special-K8810 August 2010
Gritty, profane, and extremely violent thriller centering around three disparate New York cops: a cynical twenty-year veteran playing out his final days until retirement while struggling to keep his sanity (Gere); a conflicted undercover torn between his commitment to the job and his loyalty to the streets (Cheadle); a desperate family man who has his morale put to the test while trying to provide a stable home for his wife and kids (Hawke); director Fuqua's attempt at a police morality tale is well-crafted, strongly acted, and sure to grab your attention with intense, in-your-face violent action, but it doesn't offer enough new insight to transcend the familiar, seen-it-all-before limitations of this genre. Hawke (reteaming with his Training Day director) stands out with an unexpectedly edgy performance. The violence—while expected for a film of this genre—is still tough to stomach at times. **½
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Draws you in
Panamint8 August 2010
Draws you right in from the start, builds tension to a climactic point late in the film. In the middle, you get to absorb a lot of NYC atmosphere which somewhat compensates for the formulaic nature of the film. You've seen it all before, there's no new ground, but its done in a way that will hold your interest.

Grim, adult movie themes highlight only the heavy issues that burden cops in this big city.

Cheadle, Hawke and Gere all develop very burnt-out, empty looks in their eyes that help make this film more believable than it really is. Lives have fallen apart (the personal lives of these cops). The script makes it clear that the job is rough on cop families, it makes this point almost to the point of overkill.

The women of this film are resigned to the belief that "its a man's world". They have bought this belief system almost totally. And yes I include Ellen Barkin's middle-aged super-boss-cop because she tries to be just like men in order to get to the top of this man's macho cop world/underworld environment.

Gere is subtle, very nuanced and effective in his role. Hawke is incredibly explosive in his role of a man desperately overstrung, or at least in need of a good vacation. Cheadle's mixed-up about-to-snap performance works perfectly with Snipes who gives a fine, mature, theatrical style performance. I'm ready to see more of the mature Snipes as his career progresses.

All the acting here is great and it overcomes the generally "seen it before" nature of the production. This is basically similar to Greek tragedy, so if you view it that way you won'be let down by the relentless grimness that is here from start to finish.

Entertainment value highlighted by enough tension, plus the studied pro performances rate an 8 rating from me.
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Underrated by many but well worth a look (IMO)...
cat_ranchero15 July 2012
Very well made with that gritty feel to it that Antoine Fuqua is renowned for. A decent score by Marcelo Zarvos, interspersed with rap and other 'street' tunes sets the tone. All the performances were excellent; in particular Richard Gere as the world-weary Eddie, Don Cheadle as the street-wise Tango and Ethan Hawke as the up-tight Sal. Wesley Snipes did a great job too as Cal, as did Brían F. O'Byrne as Sal's partner, Ronnie Rosario. Also worthy of note were; Will Patton as Lt. Bill Hobarts, Michael Kenneth Williams as Red, Shannon Kane as Chantel and Ellen Barkin as Agent Smith. Oh, and look out for a nice little cameo from Vincent D'Onofrio as Carlo.

I must say that the critics must have had a bad day or something when they reviewed this one. I'm usually pretty much in agreement with them, but I think they missed a trick here. Yes, the three threads don't tie together in a neat bow but they're not supposed to; that's life, it doesn't always go the way you want it to (seldom does actually). The performances are great and there are some really superb visual moments too. I liked the plot, yes, maybe a little haphazard here and there, but not as bad as some would have you believe. For me, well worth a look… RECOMMENDED.

My Score 7.1/10

IMDb Score: 6.7/10 (based on 32,232 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: 43/100: (Based on 33 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes 'Tomatometer' Score: 42/100 (based on 140 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes 'Audience' Score: 47/100 'Liked It' (based on 98,882 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

You can find an expanded version of this review on my blog: Thoughts of a SteelMonster.
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Gloomy and Bitter Police Story
claudio_carvalho24 July 2010
In Brooklyn, New York, the veteran policeman Eddie (Richard Gere) is a bitter and disillusioned lonely man that will retire in seven days. The catholic dirty detective Sal (Ethan Hawke) is a family man in despair that needs to raise money to buy a better house for his family. The undercover detective Tango (Don Cheadle) is affected by the long period he has been working infiltrated in gangs and has requested to be transferred to an office. Their lives and fates are entwined when Eddie retires and sees a missing girl that has been kidnapped by sex traffickers and he has to take a decision; Sal has to make the down payment of the dreamed house and he does nit have enough money; and Tango is assigned to frame the drug lord Caz (Wesley Snipes) that saved his life years ago and has become his friend.

"Brooklyn's Finest" is a gloomy and bitter police story with a cast that is a constellation of stars, some of them with minor parts. I watched this film with great expectations, but unfortunately the screenplay is not original, too long and sometimes confused. The three stories are very well known by viewers of this genre and the narrative is cold, without emotions. The director Antoine Fuqua could (or should) have made a better feature with the available budget and cast. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Atraídos Pelo Crime" ("Attracted by the Crime")
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Brooklyn's Finest Review
dwf80111 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Would you steal bread to feed your family? As Dwight from The Office would say, "it's a trick question. The bread is poisoned. Also, it's not your real family. You've been cuckolded by a stronger, smarter male." For Sal (Ethan Hawke), a dirty narcotics officer in Brooklyn's Finest, the answer is clear. Only instead of bread, he is stealing drug money and killing anyone who gets in the way. He needs the money because his pregnant wife is sick from the mold in their home so he needs to pay the down payment on another house he is going to buy. Hawke plays the role with great intensity, just as he did in director Antoine Fuqua's previous movie, Training Day. In that he co-starred with Denzel Washington, only Denzel was the dirty cop, and Hawke played the rookie officer who didn't like what he saw. He got an Oscar nomination for that role, but is just as good, if not better, in this movie. Sal is just one of the three conflicted cops who walk a fine line between cop and criminal. One is Eddie (Richard Gere), who is days away from retirement, and has what is probably the most eventful week of his career. His job is to oversee rookies in the mean streets, and sticks a gun in his mouth a couple of times throughout the course of the movie. His only sources of pleasures are his whiskey and frequent visits with a hooker. The other is Tango (Don Cheadle), an undercover cop who is so deep into the criminal life that he struggles with his own identity. He's been asking for a desk job for years and desperately wants out of the drug beat. The only way he can get out and receive a promotion is by betraying a close criminal friend, Caz (Wesley Snipes). The problem with movies like Brooklyn's Finest is that they often fail to add any depth to their characters in the midst of all the mindless violence. But the great acting from Hawke, Gere, and Cheadle separates this one from the crowd, and makes it a watchable action thriller. And while may not be as good as Training Day, it still shows the rough side of being a cop, and that they may not be as innocent as they appear to be.
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A competent cop flick, but it is not something very memorable
Argemaluco11 June 2010
The police corruption has been a recurrent subject in cinema from its beginnings.Classic films such as Scarface (1932) or The Asphalt Jungle reported the reality of the cops who are seduced by the easy way of crime, betraying the trust from the people and the law they swore to protect.However, in that times, the corrupt cops were the villains; but the perspective changed in the 70's thanks to movies like Shaft and Electra Glide in Blue, which showed that the ethic and the rectitude could become into obstacles in order to combat every time more violent and crafty criminals.We can suppose that those anti-heroes arose as a consequence of the dissatisfaction people felt with the authorities, and with the sad reality that the pure and incorruptible heroes of yesteryear were not credible anymore.Needless to say that real life has gotten worse in our century, and the cinema has adapted to that with films (and TV series) where the line between heroes and villains is every time more diffuse.

All the previous paragraph takes me to Brooklyn's Finest, a cop flick in which director Antoine Fuqua runs a similar field to the one he visited in Training Day 9 years ago.The result is competent and interesting, but not highly memorable.

Brooklyn's Finest has a provocative premise, and thanks to screenwriter Michael C. Martin, we have many interesting scenes of moral disjunctive, fights with the conscience and impossible decisions.But the problem is that that structure feels a bit diffuse, and I could not find the point in common which impulses the three stories this movie tells (besides of the ethical conflicts the three main characters face).In other words, I was interested in the characters and their dilemmas, but the secondary scenes which may add texture and "realism" to the story tired me a little bit, because they divide our attention without a justifiable cause and they unnecessarily stretch the movie.

In spite of that, I liked the film, mainly because of Fuqua's solid direction, which is always disciplined and absolutely free of any tricks which are not necessary in order to create suspense.As for the cast, Ethan Hawke feels a bit over the top in his character, while on the other hand, Don Cheadle is perfect as a cop whose divided loyalty is not because of simple ambition, but because of the lessons life has brought him in both sides of the law.Richard Gere could interpret even asleep the character of a veteran who is tired of fighting an endless war, but I think he keeps doing it well.As for the supporting cast, I liked the performances from Will Patton as the classical "suit" who only wants results; Ellen Barkin as a cop/politician who is more interested in her career than in the fulfillment of justice; and Wesley Snipes, who makes his return to mainstream cinema after various years of starring in atrocious action movies made straight to DVD.

As a comparison point, I liked Brooklyn's Finest more than Pride and Glory, but less than Narc and Dark Blue, because they had had more concise and compact screenplays.However, despite the fails from the screenplay and the fact it is not highly memorable, I can recommend Brooklyn's Finest as an interesting cop flick with good performances and interesting ideas.
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straty0219 March 2010
Let me just say straight away that the cast of this movie contains ALL of my favorite actors. I thought I was going to be in for a treat, maybe my expectations ruined my conclusions.

The biggest problem with this film (in my worthless opinion) is that it is portrayed as dramatic and yet there just seem to be soooooo many holes in the plot that the overall impact is reduced, almost to the point of being farcical. I won't give anything away but I don't believe that 'gangsters' are THAT stupid, I watched the TV show 'The Wire', which I thought was excellent due to it's balanced perspective. This film portrays the cops as being crooked, lifeless and aggressive morons whilst the 'gangster' are simply gun toting foul mouthed idiots who struggle to walk upright, let alone be career criminals.

By the time the final scene began I found myself struggling to stay awake because the 'drama' had become so Tepid and predictable.

Very very average.
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Verdict: Righter and Wronger.
DailyScrawl11 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Wow. You know how sometimes watching a movie feels like being immersed in a different world? Brooklyn's Finest is like that, and that different world is like the twilight zone. It's just like our world, but there's something horribly wrong about it. In this twilight zone—called "Brooklyn"— everyone is selfish and aggressive, violence is everywhere, and there's a constant level of tension in the air. Talk about depressing. Walking out of the theater was like breathing air again for the very first time. It felt good… but what does that say about the movie?


In Brooklyn's Finest, "right" and "wrong" have very little to do with anything. There are no heroes and no villains—only actions and motives. The film follows the stories of three Brooklyn cops and puts their lives under the microscope, revealing the inner-conflicts that are broiling beneath the surface. Each cop is trapped in a figurative cage of their own making ("Be careful what you wish for…"), and the over-arcing story is about their struggles to escape, and the consequences that follow.

Looking at the plot, the film doesn't follow any standard Hollywood formula, and it doesn't meet the expectations it cultivates in the first half. You might expect plot points to twist and tie together brilliantly at the end, but they don't. They get close to each other, but barely touch. The tension doesn't ratchet up and lead into an explosive climax. Instead it felt fairly constant throughout the movie. In a way, the film-making style is transparent and doesn't try to manipulate the audience at all. Everything just is.

Brooklyn's Finest is an exploration of motive and violence in a seedy culture that I'm not sure actually exists. If dark, pseudo-realistic crime dramas intrigue you, then give this one a try. Moviegoers looking for a standard Hollywood Blockbuster fix may be disappointed, however.


One reason to consider seeing this movie is the acting. The leads are all operating out of their comfort zones—Richard Gere is lacking his usual sophistication (still has a thing for prostitutes, though), Don Cheadle is thuggish and aggressive, Ethan Hawke is hardened and speaks with grit in his voice, and Wesley Snipes is, well… not an action hero. They all succeed in delivering convincing performances that feel true to life, and I enjoyed that.

How to enjoy this movie:

* Expect to walk into a dirty world full of depression, prostitution, drugs and violence.

* Focus on the subtle character acting.

* Keep your eye out for what's "righter" and what's "wronger." You'll know what I mean after the first 20 seconds. The remaining two hours of the movie are all exempli gratia (cases in point).

Weak points:

* The plot's not brilliant and doesn't culminate in some amazingly clever climax.

* The ending doesn't entirely resolve in a satisfying way.

* You may want to take anti-depression medication with you to the theater.
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Ethan Hawke's greatest movie.
PWNYCNY5 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is a strong movie with powerful performances by the entire cast, especially that of Ethan Hawke whose portrayal of a corrupt police officer carries this movie and warrants special recognition. Richard Gere's performance in some ways is reminiscent of Paul Newman's performance in Fort Apache, the Bronx, that is, of an older jaded police officer who has lost all hope yet perseveres. The movie relies on perpetuating all kinds of stereotypes to move the story along and suggests a level of corruption and violence that if plausible would render our society inoperable. Yet the story works, mainly due to the great acting and the fast paced action which manages to keep the audience's attention. One is kept wondering how the various subplots will work themselves out and who will survive the maelstrom that engulfs all concerned. Don Cheadle also gives a credible performance as an undercover police officer and Wesley Snipes gives a surprisingly measured and multifaceted performance as a street gangster. All in all, a powerful movie.
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Stirring depiction of cops on the edge, this may just be Fuqua's Finest.
johnnyboyz10 April 2013
Brooklyn's Finest tells three respective tales of a trio of very different people more broadly connected to the police force of New York City; three people who each alike want 'out' of their respective lives and lifestyles within the force, three people who live and operate in very different capacities therein the force, but look forward to the new ventures and pastures to follow thereafter their leaving. The film is a masterstroke of crime drama storytelling, a film whose runtime is never too long and whose sheer scale is never overwhelming; a film whose ability to balance each strand, ranging from everyday 'on-the-beat' cops to undercover narcotics agents, is close to faultless. As far as American thrillers that may or may not contain a good deal of second unit stuff go, it is a breath of fresh air; an appealing, story driven piece with any one of its three strands most likely making decent enough features on their own.

Director Antoine Fuqua establishes the uncompromising characteristics that dominate the nature of his film's world during the opening scene, an exchange set in the confines of a parked car in the dead of night. One man speaks to another about how he was justified in recently breaking the law out of self defence. The other man, Ethan Hawke's Detective named Sal Procida, then proceeds to shoot him dead, but only for the large amount of ill-gotten money he had with him – something which will ease his financial woes made apparent out of his unhealthy wife and large family who're all living in a building unfit for them. Above anything else, it is a perfect opening to Procida's strand; a strand built on moral grey areas and he loots and kills for sake of someone else's struggles. Waking up not so far away is Richard Gere's character, he too is a police officer named Eddie Dugan; a single man who sleeps with whisky beside his bed and unloads an empty pistol into his mouth upon getting up. The man is not far from retirement and in a bad state. Finally, Don Cheadle is an undercover narcotics agent named "Tango" Butler; a man deep in the world of housing project-set, African American run drug rings whose efficiency and professionalism is epitomised in a slick, singular take as the camera glides through their interior base of operations from the quasi perspective of Cheadle himself.

Fuqua toys with his audience in so much he allows for the least intelligent; least likable and probably most aggressive of the three, in Procida, to want what's best for other people moreover himself. In providing this character with a family, it allows for Hawke's character to occupy the screen without risk of our interest or fondness for the man waning; it allows for his story to play out without the danger of it transferring into an anonymous, bland tale of an anti-hero undeserving of his job title going through the motions. That's not to say his is the best of the three, for Butler's story about working undercover and the apparent brethren he shares with those shady delinquents, as relationships with his police superiors wane, is often shattering. Wanting away from this life of constant fear and danger, he learns the only way to do such a thing is to bring in the boss of the entire outfit: Wesley Snipes' gangster named Caz.

The reemergence of Snipes is a curious detail, a man who himself has recently served time in prison and here plays someone who is fresh out and back amongst his kin anyway. Seeing him turn up carries with it an odd air of realism: as if akin to his character suddenly reappearing amidst his own here on set, so too is Caz the wanted man who can finally be nailed by a federal department if Butler plays it right. In this regard, the casting is a masterstroke, and it is impressive that the sudden reappearance of the actor does not soften the impact of the film up to this point nor beyond it.

There are thoughts and writings that, in recent years, and something born out of the events of 9/11 in New York City, those more broadly orientated towards jobs in the fire department or police force often always come in for heroic depictions when featuring in American films. Some, the likes of Ladder 49 and such, have almost exclusively revolved around said folk in said roles. Jim Sheridan's 2010 remake of a Danish film entitled "Brothers" inexplicably featured a composition of a fire station façade during its opening montage, a shot you might say was designed, sub-consciously or otherwise, to implement both a sad and romanticised tone from the off. The film is not about firemen – far from it, but it's meant to induce melancholia what better way than to exploit the iconography of a fire station. If you want to see it in this particular way, you might read Fuqua's film as a piece going past all of that and cutting to the grit of the thing: a New York City-set project about those in roles depicted in less than flattering ways and living less than heroic lifestyles where previously we've witnessed otherwise. However you might see it, the film is a more than substantial effort .
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Righta and Wronga
ferguson-66 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Greetings again from the darkness. Since "Training Day" became a hit, director Antoine Fuqua has been one of the directors that escape harsh criticism from the Hollywood elite. He is a master of intense moments in time, but I believe many of his movies lack continuity. "Brooklyn's Finest" is no exception.

The film follows the unconnected stories of three cops. Richard Gere is the stereotypical veteran cop who is one week from retirement and begins the film with a gun in his mouth. Ethan Hawke is the desperate young cop whose family just keeps growing (his wife Lili Taylor is pregnant with twins) and he longs to provide better arrangements. Don Cheadle is the undercover cop who, if he hasn't already crossed the line, is dangerously close.

The best scenes are with Cheadle and Wesley Snipes, who plays a just released from prison hardened criminal. Their dialogue rings true for an undercover cop trying to play both sides and remember what's right. If not for Ellen Barkin's histrionics, the worst scenes would be watching Richard Gere show off his full repertoire of three different facial expressions. Poor Ethan Hawke looks like no one let him eat or shower for 2 months prior to filming. The boy looks sad.

Even though we know it's coming, the final act where the three stories intersect is pretty interesting and make for a satisfying shoot-em-up ending. Brace yourself for some hardcore street violence and language and a meandering soundtrack. The film funnels to the point that there is a very fine line between right and wrong for law enforcement types. I prefer to keep the faith that this is a serious exaggeration.
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Superb Acting, Superbly filmed, but it gets completely derailed in the 3rd act.
briangcb24 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Major spoilers below

I bought this movie on what I recalled was a recommendation of a friend of mine. I recall him saying that the film was really really good. (he's someone that's rather hard to please in terms of movies) So as I go to put the movie in, I sent him a message asking if this was the film he liked. He said "I did like it, but a few things happened that really irritated me, so it wound up just being okay." I took that with a grain of salt because like I said, he's hard to please. But I also kept it in mind while watching the film.

Everything was filmed well, dialogue, characters and situations were all complex and interesting...then comes the end. The last 15 minutes of the film has our three main police characters all cross paths but never actually meet in one apartment project. One is there because he desperately needs money for his family, so he goes on a killing rampage looking for drug money, and he finds it. Then he finds two bullets into his back for his troubles.

Our next character was the undercover cop who was having great difficulty with choosing his career by setting up the man who saved his life, but also the man he was sent to put away or tipping said man off and letting him get away. But said man gets killed in a drive-by. So our undercover character got his promotion for all the evidence he had gathered up to that point and didn't have the guilt of having to arrest the man who saved his life. So what's he do? He goes on a killing rampage against the people who did the drive-by and is in turn shot twice in the back by an officer arriving on the scene...which made no sense because he had already finished shooting everybody, the officer made no attempts to tell him to freeze or drop his gun, the cop just bloody shoots him!

Lastly we have our burned-out retired cop who was on the verge of committing suicide until he sees one final act of redemption and decides after a career of minding his own business and keeping his head down that it was time to step up and he winds up rescuing three captive prostitutes and killing one of their captors in the process...then the movie ends.

I still really enjoyed the film, I still recommend it, but if you haven't seen it yet, and have read this far, you know how it ends so I say watch it for the first two acts and at least you'll know what to expect from the ending, perhaps it won't bother you as much as it did me. I plan to watch this again in the near future to see if maybe the ending won't bother me as much.
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A slice of yesteryear
brettchatz-127 April 2010
Brooklyn's Finest explores the underbelly of police work in some of the most unbecoming neighborhoods. Three police officers who have no connection to one another are going through their own personal crises, until they end up at the same place, at the wrong time.

Richard Gere rehashes his police character role albeit in less than flattering circumstances. This time he's a cop without illusions. He's completing his 22 years on the job and has no expectations about his service or the life awaiting him after retirement. Perhaps his crowning glory is his achievement after retirement.

Don Cheadle another officer is deeply embedded in the drug world. He's being asked to do more than he's prepared to do and eventually he loses his sense of identity. There are only gray lines in this film; everything is marred by malfeasance, violence and scandal.

Ethan Hawke is a man on a path to destruction. His wife is sickly and about to give birth to twins. The house is too small and he can't provide for his family's needs on a cop salary. He takes on more dangerous drug busts and eventually is consumed by his own corruption.

The film is high quality, albeit unrealistic. It glorifies the handgun and over-emphasizes several themes, but it does a good job at captivating viewers' attention
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Rated R for Repulsive
Quietb-18 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Brooklyn's Finest must be the finest Pimps Whores and Drug Dealers residing in Brooklyn.

One cop counts the days to retirement, one cop needs money and one cop wants out from undercover to a desk job. Good thing there weren't anymore cops or the movie would be even longer.

For exposition, each cop had somewhere to go to talk. For Hawke it was the Priest in the confessional, Cheadle had the supervisor in the restaurant, and Gere had his hooker.

Gere had about a week left on the force. The movie felt like real time. It may seem incongruent but individual scenes were too short and too long. The shootings were too quick, the dying dragged out repeatedly.

Hawke would risk everything to get his wife out of the mold infected house. Maybe he didn't steal enough to move, but it looked like he had enough cash for some serious mold abatement and an addition for the children that seemed to pop-up continually.

The lead actors were all convincing and the supporting cast was strong. Surely Wesley Snipes was speaking about got going back prison from experience. Ellen Barkin was barkin'. In case we didn't recognize Barkin, Richard Gere sang "Sea of Love" to his hooker friend, one of a few light moments in this heavy dark piece of work. The director, Antoine Fuqua deserves some praise for capturing the performances and juggling the three stories.

The dialogue was riddled with profanity. The Fuqua word was shouted by everybody at everybody. The movie was in your face with extreme close-ups. The close ups of the money made the hundred dollar bills look fake.

Prominent product placement included the black BMW, Fila logo on clothes and shoes and frequent religious symbols. Perhaps there was a disclaimer from Fila in the end credits, but who could stay that long, considering the clear-out the theater, lyrics of the song over the end credits. The use of the religious symbols in the film would not make the Pope proud.

If you like violence, blood, vomit, spitting up blood, and hookers cleaning up between clients this movie is for you, everyone else should stay away.
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I don't get it? This wasn't that good.
jolex61614 March 2010
Throw away the brutal violence, and superb acting from at least Cheadle, Gere, & Hawke, and what do you get? A totally upside down, back and forth worthless, boring, confusing, not to mention, pathetic! movie. With that being said, i really don't know how to rate this. I recently saw this film with my wife 2 nights ago and well, she fell fast asleep, and i couldn't get into it until after about 65 minutes, when it started getting a little more interesting. I don't want to spoil anything, but honestly, if your looking for a movie thats gonna entertain you and make your Saturday night a well worth of staying home, DO NOT depend on "Brooklyns Finest" because honestly, it wasn't so fine, as most of these people are saying. Like i said, it was all over the place. They should of done a better job at piecing the movie together, instead of scattering everything into 1 big pile of !@#$ like they did. Anyways, all im saying, is that this could of been wayyyy better. Very disappointing, if you ask me.
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Why do they keep making the same movie?
CineCritic251714 February 2011
'Brooklyn's Finest' follows the path of three cops, each with their own agenda, from three different angles until they intertwine. Another cops vs blacks with drugs movie not even trying to be authentic and with nobody remembering it was made two years from now. Gere, Cheadle, Snipes and a bunch of other seasoned actors waste everybody's time by accommodating the producers of this flick to create the biggest pile of clichés this genre has to offer. Characters you've all seen before in much better productions ('The Wire' came to mind several times) in situations that are lifted from movies and series in which these situations weren't exactly fresh to begin with. No characters are built, no story background is offered. It just barfs the whole thing in your lap and somehow expects you to be amused by it. Completely ridiculous.
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Interesting but meandering and inconsequential
neil-47610 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Brooklyn's Finest tells three cop stories. Richard Gere is a jaundiced old timer with a week to serve until retirement. Ethan Hawke is a family man and a good cop apart from the fact that he needs more money than he earns. And Don Cheadle is undercover, wants to come out, but is being played dirtily by his superiors.

Everyone in this film is compromised - it is not a film of goodies and baddies, it is a film of baddies, some more and some less.

The performances are all good, and the stories are all interesting, but a) I expected them to intertwine, but they didn't. They all come to their respective climaxes in the same building, and Hawke's and Cheadle's stories meet each other, but Gere's is independent. And, once they'd finished, it all seemed to be a bit inconsequential somehow.

I would have welcomed subtitles in places - the black slang often completely defeated me (apart from the ubiquitous m*****f*****, of course). Plus the movie seems to have ushered in a new fashion for shooting victims to dribble blood from their mouths. This became predictable by the end.

And I was somewhat unconvinced when Gere shot someone from about 6 feet away with what looked to my untrained eye like a .38 (the shot went right through the left side of the man's chest), and the shot man then gave Gere a thorough trouncing.

But it is a long film, and it held my attention throughout.
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Gere of War
djrx016 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
You'll notice I gave this film 3 stars. Because Richard Gere was 1/3'd of this movie, he gets those 3 stars.

Where I'm going with this, is the film was a combination of horrendous and atrocious - horrocious.

I'm not sure how many of the people writing these reviews worked on the movie, but I would venture to guess it's close to 100%. This was most likely a combination of 3 scripts to make 1 movie - the only problem is that all 3 of those scripts sucked. When you see the opening scene of Gere, hopefully you'll laugh at the cliché of 1/2 Riggs, 1/2 Murtaugh and that will carry you for the 2+ hours of "Brooklyn's Finest."

There is one genius scene with Gere and a prostitute where he talks about a rookie cop he's taking around. But I'll let you see that scene so you can laugh the whole ride home with your friends.

I love Cheadle, Hawke, Gere and Snipes in general. On their own, they've done a lot of good movies - but this one didn't work. Too many story lines with no development, no twists and a complete downer. I don't feel very good after this movie. If the goal of this movie was to make you humble and to look at life with a greater respect - it does nothing but make you depressed. Luckily, I can laugh this one off.

Wish it was better, really do.
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The tortured soul of Training Day in NYC
lizithekitty3 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
David Ayer probably wishes he wrote this movie instead of going on to do butcher an amazing James Elroy story and turn it into the painfully interesting Street Kings.

Brooklyn's Finest is dark, gritty and brutal. The opening scene is the biggest indication. You get character development, chatting and not going into plot and what is going to happen next and then you get a bullet through the skull. This shows you what you're in for. Story with violence driving it.

The three main cops (Gere, Hawke, and Cheadle) are vastly different from each other. Gere plays a veteran pushing retirement who drinks away his past and only adds to his pain and has a vice that would he perfect for the vice squad. Hawke plays a very Denzel- in-Training Day-like character, the major difference is that Hawke's character rationalizes his actions as a means to better his family life. Cheadle is probably the least corrupt of the three and is the character with the larger moral conflict. The three do not ever work together once throughout the film and their paths cross at multiple occasions but mainly in the finale.

Wesley Snipes is amazing here. His character is very reminiscent of Niño from New Jack City, but much more grounded and less neo-noir. Wesley makes a very good bad guy and the way he stares at characters commands fear and respect. Ellen Barkin in a small role is very much an amazing ice queen who isn't afraid to tell you to your face she will blackmail you as she is in bed with you.

Antoine Fuqua had amazing success with Training Day and since has been really been receiving underrated praise for his direction. Tears of the Sun and Shooter were films that I enjoyed fully. His style is almost homage like. Crane shots, medium shots, very little tracking, and cut-backs. It works because it helps tell the story and show reactions. Fuqua has an amazing talent for using brutal violence and not being shy about it. Bullets penetrate and exit a body with blood spurting out, but it isn't to a "shock value" effect as much as just to emphasize the brutality of the story.

Story-wise the "separate stories that finally intersect" is used well here as these are three unique characters with their own unique story. The ending is somewhat shocking and predictable, but it leaves you satisfied. If I may be so bold, it is almost a commentary for racial tension that many New Yorkers exists within the NYPD and the racism that is very much there as well.

Unlike Street Kings, Brooklyn's Finest doesn't type cast nor does it miscast it's actors. Everyone plays their roles perfectly, and Richard Gere gives his darkest performance ever.

If you enjoyed Training Day and wanted more, this is for you.
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An excellent police drama
Three police officers one problem - how do you deal with the job? For one, how does he get through his last week when he is far beyond caring; another can't make ends meet on a police salary; and another is so embroiled in the machinations of his uncover character he starts to forget he is a cop.

None of these themes is unfamiliar - ever since Hill Street Blues tried to inject some realism into cop shows, TV has been full of 'ain't it a shame for cops'. More recently, The Wire made such good television, one began to wonder just why anyone would go to the cinema to see a police movie when you can get something so real and high quality at home.

But the strength of this film is not its originality, it is the atmosphere it creates and the portrayal of people trying to get through the day. Some have given up, others have turned to crime, and some others have become so committed that their dedication has gotten twisted and out of control.

Maybe because television has raised its game so much, thanks to HBO, we judge films by a more demanding yardstick. Nevertheless, Brooklyn's finest is a top-rate film. The acting is wonderful and Richard Gere is simply superb as the cop who has somehow lost his soul.

I would urge anyone to give it a shot. It is saddening to see how little revenue the film has made at the box office; its director Antoine Fuqua deserves greater recognition and I for one look forward to his next project with great anticipation.
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I want my life back
sol121810 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Extremely brutal cop movie that takes place in and around the crime and drug ridden Van Dyke Housing Projects in Brownsville Brooklyn. It's in those projects that the three NYPD cops that the movie focuses on end up under completely different circumstances in what turns out to be the most brutal and bloodiest scene, the "Van Dyke Massacre", of the entire film!

There's narcotic detective Salvator "Sal" Procida, Eathen Hawke, who's need for money has become an obsession with him. With a sick wife Angela, Lili Taylor, and two kids with two more on the way Sal has turned to crime in order to support his family. With a major narcotic raid, that Sal's to be part of, at the Van Dyke Houses to take place the next evening Sal decides to do it solo and get the cash, drug money, that goes along with it! It's when Sal's friend and partner in the narcotic squad Ronny Rosario, Brian F. O'Byrne, gets wind of his insane plan and tries to stop him is when Sal snaps and makes things, his raiding the Van Dyke drug den, even worse that they already are.

There's undercover detective Clarence "Tango" Butler, Don Cheadle, who's been put into the dangerous and unenviable position by his boss NYPD police Let. Bill Hobarts, Will Patton, to set up his friend who had saved his life in prison, where he was undercover, reformed drug dealer Caz Phillips, Wesley Snipes, in a narcotic string. Caz trying to go straight is the target of the overly ambitious city narcotic agent Smith, Hellen Barkin. It's Agent Smith who wants Caz busted in order to get herself a promotion that can lead in her becoming the first woman New York City Police Commissioner. It's when Caz is about to change his mind, with Tangos urging, and not go through with the deal that Let. Hobarts and Agent Smith had him set up with that the narcotic gang that he was supposed to make the deal with ended up doing the job for them!

The third cop of this "Trifecta" is the soon to be retire patrolman Eddie Dugan, Richard Gere. With only a week left for him to put in his retirement papers Dugan ends up losing one partner who was gunned down and another one who was involved in an unnecessary shooting, when Dugan left the scene to make a phone call, over a youth stealing a candy bar from a bodega. In what was the worst shock of all for him Dugan had his long time lover hooker Chartel, Shannon Kane, who thought of him only as a paying customer dump him after he tried to get her to leave the oldest profession and go live with him in the country!

***SPOILERS*** It's when Dugan, after being kicked out of the cat-house by Chantal, spots a young woman whom he earlier failed to rescue from her pimp that he finally got his "Mojo", or courage, back and attempted to do the right thing. This lead Dugan, who was now retired, to the Van Dyke Projects where the girl was being held by her pimp where both Sal and Tango were headed for for entirely different reasons!

As brutal as they come "Brooklyn's Finest" isn't for the meek or weak of heart. Overly long-133 minutes-for a cop movie and despite its pitiless brutality the film in the end does make its point: Crime doesn't pay it's those who commit, police & career criminals, it who are the ones end up paying for it! And in most cases, like in the movie, with their very lives!
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May be Brooklyn's Finest, but not Fuqaus
whosyourdrummer17 March 2010
Normally I'm not one to compare, however when the trailer shows that this is the same director as Training Day you have to. Ethan Hawke is in both movies, and they both are in some ways about crooked cops. The reason I gave this movie a 5 is strictly based upon the acting of Ethan Hawke and Don Cheadle. Without them this movie wouldn't have been anything good to watch. Richard Gere gave a good performance as well, but he didn't really stand out much.

This movie was so disappointing. The script at times was awkward, and the character development on Gere's role was pathetic. Also the climax of the movie was a very cheesy way to end a movie such as this, and it seemed at some points that movie dragged on when it didn't need to. A two hour and thirteen minute movie could have been an hour and forty five but at times it just kept going for no reason.

Overall the acting was very good, however the script did not do it justice.
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