BBC2: Sunday 6 December, 11pm
Three experienced New York cops – Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle and Richard Gere – face meltdown during the department’s targeting of a Brooklyn housing estate run by drug dealing gangs. “These police are crazy… wild!” That’s the view from the projects, and the media newshounds tend to agree. Who’d be a cop – what they see, who they have to deal with? “I did a bad thing… but to a bad guy,” confesses detective Ethan Hawke, seeking solace at his Catholic church.
He doesn’t want God’s forgiveness. He wants God’s help. Undercover cop Don Cheadle has had enough of life on the streets. He needs three things urgently: desk, suit, tie. He wants his life back. Uniformed officer Richard Gere is seven days from retirement. He’s already been rehearsing chewing on a gun barrel. The NYPD – it’s the finest police force money can buy. So ran the old gag.
This 21st century take on Paul Newman’s Fort Apache – the Bronx has different faces, but it’s the same old dirty deeds in the same old dingy places. Like Joseph Wambaugh’s The Blue Knight and New Centurions, both Pride and Glory and Brooklyn’s Finest deal with the emotional toll of police work. Sidney Lumet’s films (Serpico, Prince of the City, Night Falls on Manhattan) were concerned with the failings of the entire criminal justice system. The provocative message is no different here than it was back in the days of The New Centurions.
It just seems so much bleaker now. Powerful stuff, raw and sad, certainly more credible than director Antoine Fuqua’s previous cop movie with Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington’s Oscar-winner Training Day. But Brooklyn’s Finest isn’t just cop movie good. It’s Pride and Glory good.