Brooklyn’s Finest, the latest film from director Antoine Fuqua, will undoubtedly be compared to the director’s previous effort, Training Day. While Training Day is evidently better, Brooklyn’s Finest manages to offer a gritty and at times compelling cop tale. Now that the film has arrived on Blu-ray we get to take a closer look at it. Was the film criminally overlooked in theatres, or is it just another Training Day wannabe?
The film weaves three stories into one arc that has the main characters overlapping and crossing paths. Ethan Hawke plays Sal, a cop who is just getting by. He struggles to provide for his family and is hoping to one day save up enough money to move them into a new home. Desperate for money, he starts taking money on the side and falls into the role of a crooked cop.
Don Cheadle plays Tango, a cop who has been undercover for so long that he’s starting to lose his own identity. He has lost his marriage and is growing weary of who he can trust and where his allegiances lie. He realizes his undercover role is changing him and desperately wants out of it.
The last character we follow is Eddie, played by Richard Gere. Eddie is a cop who has one week left on the job. On the verge of retirement, Eddie hopes to serve his final days with as little work as possible. The characters don’t overlap and intersect until the end but it doesn’t matter since each character’s story arc is interesting enough to stand alone.
To start off, all the performances are pretty great. Fuqua captures all the actors wonderfully. Even Gere, whose character is a bit underwritten, does a great job. Not only do the main actors give a great effort but a lot of the supporting cast comes through pretty strong as well. Wesley Snipes, Ellen Barkin and Brian F.O’Byrne are all great and give performances equal to the performances we see from the leads.
Cheadle is the strongest and the one we as the audience can sympathize with the most. He is being used by the system and he longs for a life where he can just be himself. He has had enough with his undercover stint. Aside from Cheadle none of the characters manage to draw any sympathy from the audience but they are still intriguing enough for us to follow.
The film is also pretty dark and gloomy. It’s not a happy film. In fact, it’s almost depressing to watch at times and feels very heavy at some parts. The fact that Fuqua makes us wait over two hours to see an ending he so obviously telegraphed from the outset makes for a tough watch at points. We know early on that the film will end in tragedy but Fuqua paces the movie incorrectly and forces the audience to sit through too much.
The weaving together of the three stories works fairly well, it’s just the length of the film is far too long. That being said, there are some genuinely tense and shocking scenes, but I still think this film could have been cut down a bit.
Despite the long run time, I did enjoy the film. It does carry momentum for the most part and did have me engaged. We do get a couple cliches and the film borders on over-the-top theatrics in a few scenes but none of it is too detrimental. Fuqua forces us to focus on the gritty, corrupt and often unjust streets of Brooklyn and it proves for a pretty fun ride.
The ending of the film, where all the characters intersect, feels more like a forceful push by the screenwriter rather than a set of circumstances and this does take away a bit from the ending. Aside from that though, it was handled fairly well. The film, being shot in Brooklyn, does feel authentic and the script from screenwriter Michael C. Martin infuses the film with a sense of realism that he brings with him from his experiences growing up in the city.
Overall the film is worth a watch. It does have some flaws but it’s not a bad movie by any means. If you’re a fan of Training Day or any other cop thrillers for that matter, I’d suggest you check out the film. While it may not be Fuqua’s finest, it certainly isn’t his worst — it’s far from it.
The film looks very good on Blu-ray and neither the audio or video disappoint. Black levels come across as very deep and the exterior scenes look great as they are crisp and full of detail. The city of Brooklyn is nicely shot as the textures are displayed beautifully. The film has some great city shots and they all look beautiful on the disc.
The interior and night time scenes sometimes get lost in the transfer as the lighting is a bit off in some scenes and a couple scenes are too dark for my liking. This only happens a few times though and doesn’t stop the film from looking great. The great amount of detail, particularly in facial expressions and skin textures is very apparent and welcome. The occasional muted colors were probably an intentional choice on the part of the filmmakers and they don’t detract from the presentation.
The audio is equally as strong. Crisp dialogue is heard throughout and gunshots are handled wonderfully. There isn’t much in terms of ambiance sounds but what is found is pretty solid. The surrounds are a bit low at times and could have been upped but it isn’t a big deal. The score is mixed in nicely and sets the tone for the film. Overall the audio is very good. A lot of scenes, particularly a raid scene, show off the sound well and the transfer comes through strong.
Special features include the following:
- Audio Commentary with Director Antoine Fuqua
- Chaos and Conflict: The Life of a New York Cop
- Boyz n The Real Hood
- An Eye For Detail: Director Featurette
- From the MTA to the WGA: Writer Featurette
- Deleted Scenes
- Three Cops and a Dealer: Character Profile
- Digital Copy of Feature Film
The features are actually pretty good. The featurettes (which total up to around 30 minutes) provide some nice insight and discussion regarding the film. I found the one about writer Michael C. Martin most interesting as I didn’t realize he wrote the screenplay for a contest originally. While the deleted scenes and trailers are throwaway, the commentary isn’t bad. It’s a bit slow and dry at times but overall I did enjoy listening to Fuqua. He knows what he’s talking about and it was an above average commentary in my opinion.
In the end, Brooklyn’s Finest is a fairly solid film. The performances are great and the story, for the most part, is engaging and interesting. The film is presented beautifully as the transfer is awesome and the special features are better than most discs in recent memory.
Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of cop thrillers you’re going to like it. The great transfer and respectable special features would probably put this into the buy category, depending on how much you liked the film. Definitely check it out though.
Movie – 7/10
Video – 8.5/10
Audio – 8.5/10
Special Features – 6/10