Brooklyn’s Finest (US, 2009)

When the finest aren't good enough

It’s a problem inherent in genre: how do you reinvigorate tropes? It’s a problem inherent in getting older: you’ve ‘seen it all’ before. Brooklyn’s Finest resolves the ‘staleness’ problem by using a Crash-like narrative, though restricts it to three strands, to follow a burned-out cop approaching retirement (Gere), a corrupt young cop trying to do the best for his family (Ethan Hawke), and an undercover cop whose loyalties are divided (Don Cheadle). Each narrative has been squeezed for its drama many times but combining the three, with such brilliant performances and exemplary direction from Antoine Fuqua, offers a fresh and gripping experience.

Brooklyn’s Finest passed under my radar when it was released two years ago but it is a terrific film. Whilst there are crowd-pleasing action sequences, Fuqua shoots the SWAT teams’ brilliantly, the focus is more on the characters’ dilemmas. In addition to the star power mentioned above, there’s a chilling cameo from Ellen Barkin and great character work from Will Patton and Brian F O’Byrne.