Monday, January 19, 2009

Corrosive Cop Thriller ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’

The gloriously overboard Brooklyn’s Finest on Saturday became the first acquisition at Sundance ‘09, where the Richard Gere/Ethan Hawke/Don Cheadle cops-in-crisis B-flick went to Senator Entertainment.

Word around town had Senator dropping close to $5 million on domestic rights to the Antoine Fuqua thriller, with reports saying the resurgent label plans a fourth-quarter 2009 release date. Finest galvanized audiences following its Friday night premiere, where its overlapping storylines of three cops — a self-loathing beat officer one week from retirement (Gere), a desperate vice-squad renegade (Hawke), and waaayy undercover careerist (Cheadle) — recalled the sprawling scope of Heat and the clumsy plot contrivances of Babel. It’s total genre trash, but it’s utterly gripping, ambitious and unapologetic genre trash that we’d recommend any day over the dry self-seriousness of its contemporaries We Own the Night or Pride and Glory.

Moreover, we recommend it on the basis of its ending alone — an unbelievable 20-minute freefall of corpses that ever-modest director Fuqua related to “Greek tragedy.” We also heard last night that Senator persuaded Fuqua to relent on his final-cut insistence, or at least reconsider the closing scene, the impact of which can be almost totally inverted by trimming a single shot. Which, for the record and with due deference to spoilers, we fucking loved.

As does Fuqua, who told as much to the packed house at Friday’s premiere, even while seeming to lay groundwork indemnifying himself from softness. “I think no matter what it’s not a happy ending,” he said, ticking off the final act’s body count. “So why not swing for the fences? I believe in finishing what you started.” Us too, Antoine. Fight the good fight.

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