Brooklyn's Finest

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Brooklyn's Finest Movie Poster Image
Violent, demeaning police drama too dark for most teens.
  • R
  • 2010
  • 125 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie's main point seems to be that New York cops eventually find themselves pushed into a corner and forced into making tough decisions that include stealing and murder.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Each of the three heroes tries to do the right thing, but winds up going down the wrong path. Sal desperately needs a new house for his wife and kids (his wife is sick from wood mold) and undercover Tango does not want to rat out a friend. They both take drastic and negative paths because of these goals. The third character, Eddie, is involved in a series of ambiguous decisions, none of which seem to turn out well. The exception is his final act, which is desperate and dangerous, but which has a good goal.


The movie has very strong violence throughout, including the rough and demeaning treatment of women and prostitutes. Almost every character has a gun and uses it on some other character, sometimes without consequences. There are also scenes of characters beating each other with fists. Constant yelling.


Eddie has intense, graphic sex with a topless prostitute. (Oral sex is included.) Many other women, including prostitutes, strippers, barmaids, and girlfriends of drug dealers, appear topless. There is occasional crass sex talk as well.


A cornucopia of foul language here, with frequent uses of "f--k," "s--t," and the "N" word, in all their variations. We also hear "ass," "bitch," and many other words, including a few uses of "God" and Jesus" as exclamations.


A Pepsi logo is visible in a storefront. The next shot shows some Pepsi on a shelf.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug dealers are at the center of the story. "Tango" is undercover as a drug dealer and Sal is a narcotics cop. Drugs are visible and pervasive throughout. Eddie's prostitute snorts cocaine. Eddie drinks both whisky and beer and has a drinking problem. Sal smokes cigarettes regularly.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byWeron May 30, 2012
Adult Written byMovieMan26 October 11, 2010

Seriously depressing cop drama

This is not a fun movie. This is not an action movie. In fact, this just isn't a good movie in my opinion. The acting is alright, but the tone of the story... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySanjay407 October 28, 2011


Rated R: For Purposeless Violence, Graphic Sex, Graphic Language, and "More than average" drug use
Teen, 14 years old Written byEntropy November 8, 2010

Depressing, Gritty, Realistic, and far too mature for most teens.

Don't get me wrong, the acting is fantastic, but the message behind it is very depressing, they have incredible character development, but the storyline ma... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

  • 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
  • Last updated: March 14, 2020

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