The trailer suggests a cop movie with hyper-masculine overtones, a bucket of blood presided over by Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke and the rediscovered Wesley Snipes.
And that’s pretty much how “Brooklyn’s Finest” plays out, although the trailer is tauter and more effective than the movie itself. A slick package with a lot of manufactured angst, this one just doesn’t ring true — and it feels as though it had been cut down from a three-hour epic. Not that I want to see that movie.
Ominous deadlines await three street-level cops. Eddie (Gere) is a uniform guy who can’t wait for his retirement to kick in, seven days hence. His undistinguished service record is a testament to his ability to slide by for 22 years.
Greasy Sal (Hawke) has a brood of (literally uncountable) kids, a pregnant wife (Lili Taylor) and a mold-infested home he desperately wants to move out of. To make the down payment on a new place, all he has to do is find some available drug money sitting around a crime scene and fill his pockets. At least, that’s the plan.
Tango (Cheadle), who’s been undercover too long, is being forced by his higher-ups to rat out an ex-con friend (Snipes) in exchange for a promotion.
All of these dramas, which are unconnected until they crash into each other at the end, are full of — well, let’s let the MPAA ratings board summarize: “Bloody violence throughout, strong sexuality, nudity, drug content and pervasive language.” That pretty much says it.
And “sexuality,” in this case, mostly means women as prostitutes, strippers or kidnap victims. The only female character with any sort of authority is a police supervisor played by Ellen Barkin and the film treats her with utter contempt.
By the time that happens, “Brooklyn’s Finest” has settled into a very predictable groove, which is familiar from the previous films of director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”). There’s a surface slickness and plenty of movie-grunge, and most of it rings false.
The performances range across the map. Snipes, whose career has been sidelined of late, gets a few intense moments into his crime lord, but he’s not on screen nearly long enough. Cheadle brings his usual game, but without finding anything new.
Hawke looks as though he’s trying to authenticate his character by not bathing, but he does have some moments of naked desperation.
Gere, on the other hand, typifies the lack of focus in the movie overall: Eddie is supposed to be a passive loser of a cop, but every time he gets up to walk across the room you see that confident Richard Gere strut.
That’s just sloppy. But that’s “Brooklyn’s Finest,” a movie that alludes to larger subjects (police brutality, civilian pushback against police shootings) without finding anything bold to say.