An overlong series of Scorsese hand-me-downs. 

Richard Gere in Brooklyn's Finest

Richard Gere in Brooklyn's Finest

Overlong, overstuffed, and badly overdirected, no movie in local theaters right now is plagued by as wide a gulf between ambition and achievement as the nearly two-and-a-half-hour crime drama Brooklyn's Finest, which tracks three generally unconnected New York cops on a contrived collision course that ends one noisy, violent night at a Brooklyn housing-project high-rise.

Don Cheadle is deep undercover, having infiltrated a drug ring run by an old friend (Wesley Snipes) recently out of prison, and is angling for a big promotion. Richard Gere is a beat cop with a week left until retirement, just trying to avoid trouble. Ethan Hawke is a crooked narcotics foot soldier looking for side benefits to help move his expanding family out of their moldy, crowded house. Director Antoine Fuqua partly draws on his 2001 hit Training Day (which also co-starred Hawke), but the real influence, made groaningly plain throughout, is Martin Scorsese.

It's as if, with Scorsese in theaters now with a unrecognizable project (Shutter Island), Fuqua is filling the void by stringing together a bunch of classic Scorsese tropes: Brooklyn's Finest has tortured Catholicism (Mean Streets), tracking shots following protagonists through kitchens and into clubs and bars (Goodfellas), twisty double-cross plotting (The Departed), a squalid bloodbath as violent redemption (Taxi Driver), and unlikely pop songs in unlikely places (you name it). In this modern Brooklyn, classic doo-wop drifts from cop-bar jukeboxes and a hooker plays Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" while snorting coke with her cop companion.

As that last bit suggests, Scorsese isn't the only source borrowed from here. There's a limp attempt at gonzo naughtiness à la Bad Lieutenant (Gere's cop delivers a mundane monologue about his job while receiving head from a prostitute, which comes off as desperate rather than crazed) and Fuqua peppers his Scorsese hand-me-down scenarios with supporting players from the other great modern American crime-cinema source, HBO's The Wire. Michael "Omar Little" Williams, Hassan "Wee-Bey" Johnson, and Isiah "Clay Davis" Whitlock Jr. show up in secondary roles (Wire fans will be disoriented seeing Omar and Wee-Bey on the same side.) If Fuqua is going to have these actors on hand, he should have let them be consultants as well, to give his drug-wars storyline a little more verisimilitude.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Fifty Shades Freed

      Feature length commercial for luxury goods or chilling glimpse into the post-human future?
    • Red Sparrow

      Jennifer Lawrence ’s spy thriller is 2018’s second-best film named for a color and an animal.
    • Annihilation

      Director Alex Garland sends Natalie Portman deep into the unknown


We Saw You

Spirit Fest, Butcher's Dinner

News Blog

Supreme Court Sets Two More Execution Dates

News Blog

$28M Raleigh Town Center to Break Ground

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Seven Days In Entebbe

Hungry Memphis

Feast on the Farm with David Krog

News Blog

Commission to End Poverty in Memphis Forms

Politics Beat Blog

On Doing No Harm


More by Chris Herrington

  • Last Words

    In "Enough Said," James Gandolfini makes his last lead film role his best.
    • Sep 26, 2013
  • Masters of Sound

    New albums from two of Memphis’ most distinctive stylists.
    • Sep 19, 2013
  • Hayes Carll at the Hi-Tone

    • Sep 19, 2013
  • More »

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation