Something of a genre homecoming, Antoine Fuqua's latest film once again finds him delving into the gritty, brutal realm of cops and crooks—as he did in Training Day. Tango is an undercover officer on a narcotics detail that forces him to choose between duty and friendship. Having been to hell and back, he wants out, but the powers that be won't let him quit. Family-man Sal is a detective tempted by greed and corruption. He can barely make ends meet, and now his wife has an illness that threatens the life of their unborn twins. Eddie is nearing retirement age and has long since lost his dedication to his job as a cop. He wakes up every morning trying to come up with a reason to go on living...and he can't think of one. Fate brings the three men to the same Brooklyn housing project as each takes the law into his own hands. Crosscutting between multiple subplots, Brooklyn's Finest unfolds violently and passionately as coiled, constantly roving cinematography contributes a measure of unease to the underworld action.
Fans of the grit of HBO's The Wire, as well as of the mean-streets story intersection plot of Crash, will find a lot to like in the intense crime drama Brooklyn's Finest. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) with a sure hand, Brooklyn's Finest follows three NYPD cops who come from very different places (geographically and personally) as their lives, and the compromises they have made daily to coexist with the mean streets of Brooklyn, dovetail to a climax that will have viewers on the edge of their seats. Fuqua has assembled a stellar cast here, including Richard Gere, a veteran cop just a week from retirement; the always amazing Don Cheadle, an undercover officer whose loyalties to the force may be compromised by his growing loyalties to the groups he's infiltrating; and the film's true revelation, Ethan Hawke, a young corrupt cop whose morals make the stomach turn, though Hawke's performance is nuanced and riveting. Supporting cast members include Wesley Snipes as a badass gangster whom even the police have second thoughts about messing with. Other great performances are turned in by Vincent D'Onofrio, whose wooden delivery works here to make his character all the more menacing; Lili Taylor; and a ravishing, world-weary Ellen Barkin. The action is propelled along by the great performances, the excellent cinematography, Fuqua's deft direction, and the moody score by Brazilian composer Marcelo Zarvos. If the plot is a little far-fetched, even for a crime drama, the stellar performances more than make up for it, making Brooklyn's Finest one of Fuqua's, and certainly Hawke's, finest.