Brooklyn's Finest review

Copper load of Snipes…

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Brooklyn's Finest review - Director Antoine Fuqua clocks in for another Training Day with this gritty urban thriller about a trio of New York City cops treading murky moral waters in Brooklyn’s crime-ridden projects.

Expanding his earlier film’s 24-hour time frame to a week, Fuqua takes a similarly leisurely approach to plotting in this engrossing yet seldom gripping saga, which populates its vivid setting with over-familiar archetypes that will feel wearily predictable to anyone who has seen Serpico, Donnie Brasco and their ilk.

That’s not to say the reliable Don Cheadle doesn’t bring admirable conviction to his role as an undercover ’tec whose hopes of career advancement rest on him bringing down his drug-dealing friend (Wesley Snipes). Or that Richard Gere can’t make you empathise with his veteran plod as he faces his last seven days on the beat. It’s just that we can chart their future trajectories as soon as they arrive on screen, turning this twohour tale into something of a long haul towards a conclusion you can see coming from the lobby.

We know it is only a matter of time before Cheadle, Gere and Ethan Hawke – overacting somewhat as a desperate narc struggling to make ends meet – cross paths, and that it really won’t be pretty when they do. Until that point comes, there is little to do except put our feet up while we watch them go through their sub-Wire motions and wait for tyro screenwriter Michael C Martin to get to the point.

Martin – a former subway employee whose script was spotted after it came runner-up in a writing competition – has better luck on the fringes of his story, giving Cheadle a formidable opponent in Ellen Barkin’s ball-busting Fed and Snipes his best part in years as the ruthless but oddly noble kingpin to whom he owes his life. But subtlety, alas, is hardly his strong point, Hawke’s ethical decay being rather too obviously signified by the creeping wood mould rotting his house from within.

Fuqua shot on real locations to give this drama an authentic sheen. Shame, then, that some of his characters ring false. But no gripes about Snipes, reminding us how good he once was and could be again.

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Freelance Writer

Neil Smith is a freelance film critic who has written for several publications, including Total Film. His bylines can be found at the BBC, Film 4 Independent, Uncut Magazine, SFX Magazine, Heat Magazine, Popcorn, and more.