A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Brooklyn's Finest is an exceedingly violent police drama starring Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle, and Richard Gere, with lots of gunfights and killing. It's filled with wall-to-wall foul language (including "f--k," "s--t," and the "N"-word), intense sex scenes that include topless women, and a generally negative treatment of women. The three main characters face tough decisions that end up involving murder and theft. No one is redeemed, nor do they learn lessons, and the film is actually rather hopeless.
What's the story?
Beat cop Eddie (Richard Gere) has a drinking problem and is about to retire. He is assigned to let a couple of young rookies ride around with him. Their inexperience puts him in a tough spot. Sal (Ethan Hawke) is a narcotics officer who has resorted to killing drug dealers and stealing drug money to help out his sick wife and ever-growing family. And Tango (Don Cheadle) is an undercover cop who desperately wants his life back, but must rat out Caz (Wesley Snipes), a man who once saved his life. All three cops are squeezed into impossible situations, and their final decisions bring them to the same place on the same night.
Is it any good?
The screenplay by Michael C. Martin is overcooked, with outsized emotions and nary any subtly or breathing room. But director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter) adds some vivid gritty cityscapes and intense performances and mostly pulls it through. Some of the plot threads and details -- such as Eddie's intermittent drinking problem -- don't quite add up, but the overall tone and balance tend to smooth out such wrinkles.
The expert actors lend some genuine sadness and desperation to their parts, delivering the lines like a poetry slam. Fuqua gives the three stories equal weight, and none outweighs the other. But it's a long movie, and strange. It has a relentless, downbeat tone; on the one hand, it's a refreshing departure from standard Hollywood fare in which all characters must find redemption (and a throwback to gritty cop movies of the 1970s), but on the other hand, it feels rather hopeless and almost pointless. Audiences will no doubt be strongly split.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the strong violence in the film. How do characters react when other characters are shot and killed? Are they desensitized, or do they suffer? How does the violence make you react?
Why are women treated so poorly in an atmosphere of crime and police? Why are they all either strippers, hookers, or working for drug dealers? Why is the strongest female in the movie, Agent Smith (Ellen Barkin), so mean?
Sal justifies his behavior because he's trying to help his family, and because the drug money he's stealing doesn't actually provide any use for anyone other than wealthy city officials. Is he right?
- In theaters: March 5, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: July 6, 2010
- Cast: Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Richard Gere
- Director: Antoine Fuqua
- Studio: Overture Films
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 125 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: bloody violence throughout, strong sexuality, nudity, drug content and pervasive language
For kids who love crime drama
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.