Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Patrick Murguia
WRITER: Michael C. Martin
MUSIC: Marcelo Zarvos
“Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua directs another crime thriller about three officers who are in desperate situations. Officer Eddie Dugan (Richard Gere) is only days from retirement and has nothing to show for it. This has driven him to the brink of suicide.
Detective Clarence “Tango” Butler (Don Cheadle) is deep undercover and he must decide whether his loyalty is with his superiors or the criminal (Wesley Snipes) he has now grown close to. He hates seeing the way African-Americans are treated by other officers on the street and his handler (Will Patton) is doing what he can to get him out.
Then there is Detective Sal Procida (Ethan Hawke). He is trying to get enough money to support his growing family. He thinks he has found a way by taking money from the raids he is assigned to carry out. In the end, all three men’s lives subtly intertwine and eventually collide.
Fuqua has proven before that he is more than capable of handling a crime drama such as this. The key to the film is trying to juggle the three mostly separate stories while keeping the audience interested. Fuqua and his three leading men do this almost with ease. It also helps that they have a mostly well crafted screenplay by Michael C. Martin.
It also helps that the supporting cast is on top of their game as well. Back in front of the camera is Snipes as Caz, Tango’s prison buddy. While he is one of Brooklyn’s most notorious crime lords, Snipes does a good job at giving the audience a reason to believe in Tango’s loyalty to him. While he has done bad things, he is not completely a bad person.
This element is another thing that helps the film. None of the characters, especially the main actors, are completely innocent. Whether it’s Eddie’s apathy towards his job, Tango’s trust issues or Sal’s desperation, they all have flaws. The question is whether or not they can overcome these flaws to come out on top.
While the story is good for the most part, that does not mean that there aren’t flaws in the script as well. Eddie’s suicidal tendencies are revealed right from the get go and it makes the audience wonder why he is so hell bent on making it through to retirement.
Another problem comes with the third act of the film. While the main characters only brush up against each other through most of the story, it feels as if the script tries a little too hard to get them all to the same place by the end of it. There is no real reason for this to be but it is only a small problem and, to be quite honest, most of the audience probably won’t even notice.
Even though it is not quite as good as “Training Day”, Fuqua has prepared a film that is both dark and gritty. With three strong leads and a great supporting cast, it is also a damn good crime drama that no one should miss out on.