Review: Brooklyn’s Finest DVD

STUDIO: Overture/Anchor Bay | DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua | CAST: Richard Gere, Wesley Snipes, Don Cheadle, Will Patton, Lili Taylor, Brian F. O’Byrne, Shannon Kane, Ellen Barkin
RELEASE DATE: 7/6/2010 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray $39.98
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes; Blu-ray adds exclusive featurettes, character profiles, digital copy
SPECS: R | 132 min. | Crime drama | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Brooklyn’s Finest is immediately reminiscent of Sidney Lumet’s New York cop movies of decades past — Serpico, Q&A and Prince of the City — wherein the city’s law enforcers set out to do the right thing but ultimately find themselves in emotional, ethical and physical trouble.

In the case of Brooklyn’s Finest, filmmaker Antoine Fuqua’s best work since 2001’s Training Day, it’s three Brooklyn cops who, in a trio of more-or-less unconnected story lines that occasionally overlap, each find themselves on the edge and in a fix. For starters, there’s Richard Gere, a weary beat patrolman who might make it to his retirement in a week if he doesn’t kill himself or one of his younger partners first. Then there’s Ethan Hawke, a narcotics officer whose wish to provide a better life for his wife (Lili Taylor) and kids sparks a temptation to snatch up a satchel of confiscated drug money. Finally, there’s Don Cheadle’s undercover cop, who has been on the streets so long that he has grown to genuinely like the recently paroled drug kingpin (Wesley Snipes) he has been targeted to bust.

Filmed primarily on location in eastern Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood and featuring fine performances all around, Brooklyn’s Finest looks and feels appropriately realistic and gritty, but the real power comes from the triptych story line and the overall sense of doom that the players telegraph from the movie’s opening minutes. The film plays like an urban morality drama — judgment day will come to us all — and that can be attributed to first-time screenwriter Michael C. Martin’s well-structured if overstuffed screenplay, as much as it can be to Fuqua’s surprisingly formal pacing and mise-en-scene, all of which leads to a climax where all three stories come to an explosive head.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.