Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Antoine Fuqua|
|Produced by||Basil Iwanyk
|Written by||Michael C. Martin|
and Wesley Snipes
|Music by||Marcelo Zarvos|
|Editing by||Barbara Tulliver|
Thunder Road Film Productions
|Distributed by||Overture Films|
|Release date(s)||January 16, 2009(SFF)
September 8, 2009 (VFF)
March 5, 2010
|Running time||133 minutes|
Brooklyn's Finest is a 2010 American crime film starring Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, and Wesley Snipes. It is directed by Antoine Fuqua, and written by Michael C. Martin, a one-time subway flagger from East New York. It was the first film to sell at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, for a sales price of "under 5 million dollars." The film was released in North America on March 5, 2010.
The film takes place within the notoriously rough Brownsville section of Brooklyn and especially within the Van Dyke housing projects in the NYPD's sixty-fifth precinct. Three policemen struggle with the sometimes fine line between right and wrong.
The opening scene shows two men sitting in a parked car having a conversation, the man in the drivers seat, Carlo (Vincent D'Onofrio) is then shot unexpectedly in the face by the passenger (revealed to be Sal) who then robs Carlo and runs off.
Detective Salvatore "Sal" Procida (Ethan Hawke), desperate for money to feed and house his rapidly growing family, has started pocketing the money left on the table during drug raids. Deeply religious, he finds that he's in the bad place of trying to reconcile his misdeeds with his needs. The mold in the walls of his home is making his wife (Lili Taylor) ill and endangering the life of his unborn twins. And the down payment on his coveted new, bigger house is past due.
Officer Eddie Dugan (Richard Gere) is a week from retirement after twenty-two years of less-than-exemplary service to the force when he's assigned to oversee rookies in the tough neighborhoods. His life in shambles, Eddie is barely hanging on, swilling whiskey in the morning to get out of bed. His only friend is the prostitute he frequents.
Detective Clarence "Tango" Butler (Don Cheadle) is an undercover cop working the drug beat. But he tires of the kind of attention that a black man in a black car attracts, and he's been begging for a promotion and a desk job for years. He's finally offered a way out and it means betraying a close friend Caz, a known criminal (Wesley Snipes) recently released from federal prison.
Federal Agent Smith (Ellen Barkin) instructs Tango to set-up the drug deal that will assure Caz's arrest and return to federal prison. Eddie's first rookie assignment (Logan Marshall-Green) gets himself killed on his second day on the force when he requests to be assigned to work with another officer. Sal's wife goes into the hospital after an asthma attack brought on by the mold in their home. Eddie's second rookie assignment (Jesse Williams) accidentally shoots near a petty drug-dealer leaving the young man deaf and the NYPD facing a public relations nightmare.
When Tango goes to warn Caz to abort their upcoming drug deal, they are ambushed and Caz is shot dead on the street, under orders from Red (Michael K. Williams), a gangster Caz had humiliated earlier in a rooftop incident. Eddie turns in his badge and visits his regular hooker, Chantal (Shannon Kane), who does not want to change her life by moving with him to Connecticut. After Agent Smith remarks that Caz's death is better than his arrest, Tango lunges at her, but is restrained by fellow agents. Tango determines to avenge Caz's death now that he knows Red ordered the hit.
That night within the Van Dyke housing projects, Eddie, Tango, and Sal converge for very different reasons. After leaving his friend and partner, Detective Ronny Rosario (Brían F. O'Byrne), Sal, alone, raids the apartment of a drug informant. After killing many of the informant's entourage and finding their stockpile of cash, Sal is shot from behind and killed by the lone remaining gangster. Meanwhile, Eddie, overcoming the urge to commit suicide, rescues a missing person (Sarah Thompson) from a basement operated sex-slave dungeon. Tango gets his vengeance from Red, but then is mistaken for a gangster and is shot dead in the street by Rosario. Only after shooting and killing Tango does Rosario realize he's shot another law officer. Rosario, still determined to stop Sal, is forced to continue his search for him, yet is further devastated when he finds the body of Sal within the building.
The closing scene shows Eddie having rescued the missing person, and an assortment of other women, and in the process having redeemed himself from the reputation he earned within the precinct of being a failure as an officer.
The film was filmed in 3 boroughs in New York City: Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. In Brooklyn, locations included Brownsville and the Van Dyke Houses. And in Queens, locations included Rego Park. Martin was paid $200,000 for the script, the total budget was in the $17 million range, and many of the actors took large pay cuts to make the movie.
Michael C. Martin, the writer of the screenplay, went to South Shore High School, where a film appreciation course sparked his interest and an ACL injury derailed a possible future basketball career, and he studied film at Brooklyn College. He originally wrote the Finest script for a screenwriter's contest after having been injured in a car accident in 2005. He didn't win the contest but his second prize included a subscription to the IFP newsletter. The script also continued to gain attention. Martin found an agent, interest in him writing a New Jack City sequel, and, finally, interest in making the film of the original script.
Brooklyn's Finest premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009, and was picked up by Senator Distribution with a price "in the low seven figures". Due to some financial distress, Senator Distribution wasn't able to fund its release in 2009. The film was sold again to Overture Films at the Venice Film Festival in September, and was released in North America on March 5, 2010. The film carries an R rating from the MPAA.
The film was met with mixed reviews. It currently holds a 40% approval rating based on 107 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 5.4/10. The film also received a weighted average score of 43 out of 100 at Metacritic, based on 33 reviews from mainstream critics.
In his review for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, concluding that "The film has a basic strength in its performances and craft, but falls short of the high mark Fuqua obviously set for himself." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle praised the actors for "bringing dimension to these stock characters", but criticized the film for being "a melodrama about three cliches in search of a bloodbath." A. O. Scott of the New York Times also gave the film a mixed review, stating that "the sheer charismatic force of much of the acting keeps you in the movie", but "Mr. Fuqua and Mr. Martin dig themselves into a pulpy predicament, and then find themselves unable to do anything but shoot their way out." The Los Angeles Times reviewer commented that "Brooklyn's Finest is an old-style potboiler about desperate cops in dire straits that overcooks both its story and its stars."
In its debut weekend in the United States, Brooklyn's Finest opened at #2 behind Alice in the Wonderland with $13,350,299 in 1,936 theaters, averaging $6,896 per theater. As of March 2010, the film has grossed $22,443,522 in the United States on a reported budget of $17 million.