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Dark Blue
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2003
Many people were misled by the original ad campaign for "dark Blue". The trailer for "Dark Blue" tried to showcase the film as a straightforward shoot-'em-up flick, but that's not the case. Many people figured that "Dark Blue" was a film that was slapped together quickly to capitalize on the then-success of "Training Day".... which also isn't the case.
For those who actually took the time to go see "Dark Blue" (I was one of those few), they were rewarded with a satisfying, compelling crime drama. Kurt Russell, one of the most outrageously underrated actors in film, gives one of his all-time great performances as a semi-corrupt cop prowling the streets in Los Angeles, circa the Rodney King trial. His balancing act between the cynicism and corruption of his daily life, and the dormant idealism of his youth, is extraordinary to watch. "Dark Blue" is also a return to form for "Bull Durham" director Ron Shelton, who delivers his best movie since "White Men Can't Jump". And there's also some guy called Ving Rhames....
I highly recommend "Dark Blue." - ****1/2, rounded up to 5 stars.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2004
A Film by Ron Shelton
Dark Blue opens with what looks like it is an episode of COPS but turns out to be a police chase that ends up as the Rodney King beating by L.A. cops. The movie then turns to show that the cops involved in the incident are now on trial and there are whispers that if the cops get off (as most expect that the will), the city will erupt. It is with this tension that we are introduced to Eldon Perry (Kurt Russell). Perry is an L.A. detective (plainclothes) and is somewhat of a controversial figure. He does his job, gets the criminals, but his methods are suspect. He follows orders, but uses somewhat excessive force in getting the bad guy. Perry views his job as the good guys (cops) versus the bad guys and that he is justified in using any means necessary in getting the bad guys.
Perry has a new partner, a young cop named Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman). Near the beginning of the movie we see Bobby in an internal review on his use of force in a case. Bobby shot a perp and with Perry's testimony he is cleared of all internal charges. The movie is less a pure story driven film than it is a revealing of who Perry is and the situation of the L.A.P.D. during the Rodney King era. There is corruption starting at the top and there are idealistic cops (usually young) and there are some cops like Arthur Holland (Ving Rhames) who are still upstanding men and trying to do the right thing even when the other captains are not.
This is a harsh look at the L.A.P.D. at a very heated time with the riots just around the corner (indeed, the Rodney King riots begin during the movie). It is a whole lot better than I could have expected and this has to be one of Kurt Russell's best roles. This is one of the better police movies that you will see and is an under-looked gem of 2002.
-Joe Sherry
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A dark, troubled film about a dark, trouble time Dark Blue was inspired by a James Ellroy story (L.A. Confidential) and has all of the twists and turns one would expect from Ellroy. It's an unusual movie for director Ron Shelton to tackle and he does an admirable job with the material.
Set during the days before the Rodney King verdict, Dark Blue looks at the loss of innocence of one police officer and the potential redemption of another. The cast is outstanding with Kurt Russell deserving of an Acadmey Award nomination (not likely to happen given how early in the year the film was released and the way MGM promoted it)as L.A.P.D. veteran Eldon Perry. Perry has descended into hell and can't seem to escape its torments. He's become a corrupt individual (somewhat like Denzel Washington in Training Day although, arguably, this is a much better film)who has decided to fight criminals by ignoring the rules.
His new, fresh faced partner Bobby Keough (played by Scott Speedman)is Perry's naive, honest and younger doppleganger. Keough is sucked into Perry's world when he must lie during a hearing about a bust where the criminal was killed. The marvelous Brendan Gleeson gives a oily performance as their boss Jack Van Meter . He's playing both sides of the fence and smothered by corruption; he's sold his soul for money using the job to advance his own agenda.
Ving Rhames turns in a nicely nuanced performance as Assistant Chief of Police Arthur Holland. Holland knows about the darkness at the heart of the department and Van Meter's role in destroying the integrity of those in blue. He's convinced he can turn around the situation but he has his own skeleton in his closet waiting to undermine his authority.
I don't want to go into the nicely detailed plot. It would spoil the film. I should warn you it's a dark story but there's also the chance for redemption for the characters towards the end.
The transfer is nice. Strangely, it's a dual sided disc with both pan & scan and widescreen versions of the film. There are three featurettes, a photo gallery and an enlightening commentary by director Ron Shelton.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I gave this 3 star film 4 stars, just because of the really terrific effort and performance by the underrated Kurt Russell. Prior to "Dark Blue" I really only thought Russell could do well with comedy -- his Captain Ron is a howl, and he was incredible as an action hero with a light touch ("Snake" in the "Escape From" films).
Here he is undermined by the direction of the film. Although he's had a few decent outings, Ron Shelton has not turned in a film worthy to keep him employed since "Bull Durham". Given decent material (story by James Ellroy, screenplay adapted by David Ayer, who did "Training Day") a terrific premise that tied the film into the Rodney King riots, and some decent supporting actors (none of whom was coached into a palatable performance), Ron Shelton made a mediocre movie. His newest, "Hollywood Homicide", is horrible. It's time for producers and film companies to wake up and let Shelton retire from the trade....
Only Russell rises above the direction, and even fine character actor Ving Rhames overacts in his role. Russell has an incredible scene where he's upbraided by his boss and mentor, in front of a rookie cop (Scott Speedman, miscast as a cop)who is his new partner. Just the facial expressions alone give you his seething anger in the face of his hero-worship for the commander.
Story lines about Russell's marriage and Speedman's love affair are wasted, but strangely, the movie IS compelling through the final scenes. Russell's cop is probably a caricature of the real "cowboy cops" in LA in those days, but you find yourself believing in him, despite his flaws.
Decent DVD production and camera work, but overall, rent the DVD instead of purchasing. If you are a Russell maven, you must have this one for your collection, though!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2003
I thought this was a good outing for Kurt Russell, who I have always felt was an underrated actor. He is very solid in the film, turning in an edgy yet at times nuanced performance.
The problems in the film lay elsewhere.
The film is about a supposedly crooked, violent racist cop that sees the light and, in some measure, makes amends. This is problem number one. His conversion from hard-bitten head breaker to reformer is much too sudden. Russell does an admirable job in trying to make this transition, but I got the feeling the film went from being realistic to a liberal "gee, wouldn't it be cool if this happened to this bad cop" kind of scenario. People just don't change that suddenly, particularly not career police officers that have dealt with the worst society has to offer day in and day out. Someday, somehow, I would like to see a Hollywood picture where a tough, head-breaking cop simply stays that way throughout the course of the picture and does not "seek redemption" or come to a violent, "deserved" end.
Second problem was that, as is always the case in Hollywood these days, all the major black characters are noble, all the white characters, except for the young, whiny partner Kurt Russel's character is saddled with, are evil and racist (of course). Worst performance: Ving Rhames, who I have liked in other roles. Here, he is a flat, stiff cutout. Every line is moral and "true", and Rhames uses an affected, self righteous tone of voice throughout (a propensity the actor often needs to be directed away from). There is even a long scene where he relates a little sermon in church, just to make it clear what a good, godly man he is. There is something self-pitying about the character, and I found myself rooting for him to be crushed in the film, which is surely not what the filmmakers indented. Also, Michael Michele is terrible as Beth Williamson. Another beautiful woman that wants to be a serious actress. Yet another actress that imagines if she makes her eyes half-lidded and speaks in a flat voice, it makes her seem tough.
A bright spot in the film was the performance by Brendan Gleeson, who plays Jack Van Meter. Now here is an actor that knows half-closing your eyes just makes you look sleepy and stupid. His eyes are wide open throughout. He is also terrifying. Gleeson's acting is almost worth the price of admission.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2004
Some say "Dark Blue" resembles "The Training Day." That's no wonder, because both films' scripts are from the same person, David Ayer, whose has first-hand knowledge about being street-smart. The difference is, "Dark Blue" has no Denzel Washington. But don't be disappointed, for Kurt Russell, after lamenable turns in "Vanilla Sky" and "3000 Miles to Graceland," gives his career-best performance as Eldon Perry, an LA cop who is so determined to erase the bad that he has become the part of it.
The story (originally based on the one by acclaimed writer James Ellroy, the guy behind "L.A. Confidential") has nothing original except one thing (I'm coming back to that). Eldon got a partner, rookie cop (surprisingly good Scott Speedman), and with him he investigates a brutal case of murder at a liquor shop run by a Korean American. But what he finds out leads not to the criminals (about them you see in the opening), but to the corruption of the system of justice.
In the meanwhile, a determined assistant police chief (Ving Rhames) is watching for the chance to 'get' Eldon and his boss LAPD chief Brendan Gleeson, both of whom he heartily despises. And there is even a story about love between the two sects....
Except for the factor about the 1992 trial about the police and Mr. Rodney King, and its shocking consequences in South Central, LA, the film has nothing new to add the genre. The combination of veteran and rookie can be seen back in these 'Dirty Harry' films, and what Clint Eastwood has done, you see done in "Dark Blue." Though the film manages to show the intense moments (like the re-created riot scenes), what you will see, I am afraid, has already been seen.
And the female parts are all less than satisfactory; Lolita Davidovich (director Ron Shelton's wife) is usually good when given a right role, but this time her role is just to suffer and weep as a cop's wife (very typical). The same goes to Michael Michele, who is also the victim of the underwritten role.
Having said that, "Dark Blue" has Kurt Russell's powerful performance, which is probably the best in his career so far. Because of his convincing portrait of the cop who treads on the very thin line between the good and evil, and its very credible locale that conveys the feeling of the 'street,' "Dark Blue" remains watchable throughout inspite of its occasionally dull moments.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2003
"Dark Blue" arrives on the screen with superior credentials: a script penned by the man who wrote "Training Day," from a story by the ultimate commentator on all things Los Angeles, James Ellroy and directed by Ron Shelton who also directed the sublime "Bull Durham." The scope of the film is daunting because it not only deals with bad police, acting badly it is also set in the days before and right after the Rodney King Trial decisions and the repercussions that they caused on the street of Los Angeles; which, by the way was not at all a 100% African American response. It was also a Latin American and Asian American response to the court decisions.
In "Training Day," our "hero" was in charge, taking orders from almost know one: able to decide who, what where he wanting to be or do. Eldon Perry (Kurt Russell) does not have this leeway as he is cowered more than once by his Police Chief (Brendan Gleeson as Jack Van Meter). It is Van Meter calling the shots here and Perry and his partner, Booby Keough (Scott Speedman) are mere pawns in Van Meter's world.
Even though all the pieces of this film are intriguing, it just doesn't add up to a cohesive whole. Certainly, some of the scenes ring of truth: Perry being scolded, put down really by Van Meter is worth every penny they paid Russell especially the look of hate, disgust mixed with admiration on his face. Russell's Perry is a man who has paid the price of fitting in, being one of the boys, being a team player with the currency of his ethics and his self-esteem. Ving Rhames is way under-utilized as Deputy Chief of Police Holland. But his mere presence adds solidity and honesty to the proceedings.
"Dark Blue" does not achieve the emotional or the gut wrenching, feral heights of "Training Day" but it definitely has its moments. And it once again shows us what a really fine actor Kurt Russell is.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2003
The Los Angeles that "Dark Blue" presents us with is an urban cauldron filled with street thugs, gangbangers and corrupt cops simmering against the turbulent backdrop of the Rodney King verdict and the riots that erupted as a result of it. In terms of its setup, "Dark Blue" is highly reminiscent of "Training Day," in that here too we have a crooked LAPD veteran cop mentoring an impressionable newcomer who has been assigned to him as a partner.
Kurt Russell, in one of his fullest performances to date, makes Sgt. Eldon Perry Jr. an emotionally conflicted, psychologically complex character. Here is a man who has police work running through his veins (his father and grandfather were cops before him), yet, like his forebears, he is not afraid to look the other way or flout the rules when he feels it justified in order to get the job done. His sidekick, Bobby Keough (played by Scott Speedman), is a pretty-boy neophyte still idealistic enough to believe he can make a difference as a cop without having to break the very laws he has been sworn to uphold. Based on a James Elroy story, the David Ayer screenplay weaves a complex tapestry out of a bevy of interesting secondary characters and a number of investigations being conducted simultaneously. The distinction of the film comes with its historical context as the drama unfolds amidst the racial tensions and anti-police sentiment of the Los Angeles of 1992, a powder keg just waiting for the right spark to set it off. Director Ron Shelton does an effective job recreating that fateful day when the city erupted in flames and the whole community faced its moment of reckoning.
Perry makes a more sympathetic figure than the corrupt cop played by Denzel Washington in "Training Day." That turns out to be both the film's greatest strength, in that it gives Perry a somewhat greater complexity, and its greatest weakness, in that it leads to the film's least convincing moments, the grandstanding speech the suddenly regenerated cop delivers at the end of the film. The film is less daring than "Training Day" in that it chickens out and redeems its protagonist in the final reel. We also sense that, structurally, the writer simply couldn't figure out how to wrap up his tale in a more believable, naturalistic fashion. The closing moments, which feel tacked on to the drama, reek so badly of contrivance and artifice that they end up undercutting much of the quality of the rest of the film.
Be that as it may, "Dark Blue" is a well written, well directed and well acted policier that has more on its mind than just mindless mayhem, shoot-`em-ups and car chases (though there are certainly plenty of those to be found in the film). And Russell alone is worth the price of admission.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2013
There are a lot of corrupt cop/system movies out there with varying degrees of quality. This is one of the better ones.

Here's the scoop. The jury in the Rodney King beating trial has just gone into deliberation. A salt and pepper team has hit a Chinese store and killed a bunch of people. They weren't after the store money but the owner's safe upstairs. Detective Eldon Perry (Kurt Russell) and his partner Bobby Keogh (Scott Speedman) are put on the case. Kurt knows pretty quickly who did it but his boss won't let him collar them because he ordered the robbery. Now Kurt and his partner need to finger two other guys and rub them out so they have fall guys for the crime.

Some could complain that too much of this flick relies on coincidence and I couldn't argue. That's something conspicuous in other David Ayer projects like "Harsh Times" and "Training Day." He will need to address that, but what this has going for it is a strong cast and great dialogue. First, the cast. Russell, Speedman, Brendon Gleeson. Ving Rhames, et al are all veterans and they do a really great job. Then there's the script/dialogue. James Ellroy wrote the story from which the script was derived. It has the feel of the gritty, corrupt Los Angeles he's written of in his other novels. Ayer pens the dialogue and it's great. It's very street savvy and thick. You really need to pay attention to grab everything. But Ayer's direction is really good. I never felt as though the camera was in the wrong place and the movement within the frame is smooth. This is a very polished work. I don't quite know what to think of the culminating scene during Russell's swearing in ceremony. I could see where some might not like it. It worked well enough for me. But the street scenes showing the rioting after the Rodney King Jury gave a pass to the police are eerie and raw. Glad I wasn't there.

The four stars I gave it might be a bit generous but just a bit. This is a heck of a watch if you like corrupt cop flicks.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2005
DARK BLUE
GREAT FILM

This film is as powerful as it is gripping and not necessarily because it is a classic film, because it's not. The film its self is a good film but not one of the all time greats, it's because of the subject matter in this film, and that makes it good. The film is centered around Eldon Perry {Kurt Russell} and his rookie partner played by Scott Speedman. As they are out to solve a robbery/multi homicide during the time of the Rodney King beating, which has everything/nothing to do with the film. As the film proceeds toward the end of the film each one of the two proceeds to have a change of heart. One because he is really a good hearted person and the other because his wife leaves him and his boss wants to have him killed. So one dies for his beliefs and the other gives out the dirt live in front of the force and media about what he did and his boss.

One of the most interesting things about this film is the riot that breaks out because of the verdict in the King beating trial. In fact one of the most memorable moments is when DASH MIHOK is killed by all the black guys because he is white, sadly things like that really happened when the riot happened. Director Ron Shelton did an excellent job with this film, but the acting is what makes this film a great movie.

Kurt Russell may actually give his best performance ever in this film, his gritty corrupt cop role is played with excellence. And Ving Rhames is excellent in his role as well has the next chief of police, I was really pleased to learn of his presence in this film. But the best thing about this film is two small supporting roles in KURUPT, and Dash Mihok. The two fiendish friends in this film who kick it off in the beginning are definitely the most entertaining to watch threw out the entire film. I dare u to watch the film and not agree with me. Each scene the two are in is heightened by their presence. I just wish these two would have had more screen time.

Over all this is a very good film, I recommend it to any body looking for a good, entertaining film.
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