Just about every dramatic cop film, from 'Serpico' to 'Magnum Force' to 'Cop Land,' involves corruption within the police force. And there's always a character who believes he's above the law.
All that and more can be found in Antoine Fuqua's latest film, 'Brooklyn's Finest.' There's plenty of clichéd themes, violence and mayhem, but with Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke and Wesley Snipes leading the charge, there's enough intensity and well-acted performances to wet your appetite. 'Finest' is 'New Jack City' meets 'The Wire.'
Set in Brooklyn, N.Y., where several drug busts are going down, the film follows the lives of three cops who have lost their sense of right and wrong. Sal (Hawke) is in a big financial bind and uses his badge to help himself to some illegal cash to support a growing family and a sick wife.
Veteran cop Eddie Dugan (Gere), who has a penchant for hookers, decides to turn his back on crime with just days left on the job before retirement. When the top brass elect him to train rookies, he isn't pleased and doesn't hide his attitude to the recruits (Logan Marshall-Green and Jesse Williams).
Finally, undercover cop Clarence, known as Tango (Cheadle) in the streets, is looking for a way out and a promotion for the work and time he's put in, but his commanding officer needs him to build a case on a paroled drug dealer named Caz (Snipes). Tango is reluctant to bring in Caz, whom he befriended while the two were locked up. Needless to say, Caz is unaware of Tango's true identity.
More intense than 'Training Day,' 'Finest' brings out the best of Hawke, who shows that he has impressive range as actor. Seeing Cheadle play gangsta and be credible isn't hard. His character in this film is similar to his role as Mouse in 'Devil in a Blue Dress.' He's just as good now as he was then. Gere masters his role as the resigned and jaded cop biding his time. It's cliche, but the actor makes the best of it. For his big-screen comeback, Snipes channels his inner Nino Brown, but this time, he brings a lot of maturity to the role.
Although the three cops have separate stories, in a world of coincidence, things come to a gritty convergence in one nerve-wracking final sequence that drags on. It doesn't take much to predict the film's outcome. But if you love the genre and are a glutton for more, 'Finest' more than delivers.