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Dark Blue

Starring Kurt Russell, Scott Speedman, Brendan Gleeson and Ving Rhames; Michael Michele, Lolita Davidovich
Screenplay by David Ayer
Based on a story by James Ellroy
Directed by Ron Shelton

IN SHORT: Great Kurt Russell perf in standard cop fare. [Rated R for Violence, Language and Brief Sexuality. 116 minutes]

There are cops and there are Cops. The former work the beat. The latter get the nastiest, bloodiest, dirtiest investigative work they can get their hands on. These are the men of the Los Angeles police department's Special Investigations Squad (SIS). Eldon Perry (Kurt Russell) is the veteran star of Dark Blue. His rookie partner Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman) happens to be the nephew of their mutual boss Jack Van Meter (Brendan Gleeson). One cop is a realist. One is not and while you can probably guess most of the story without too much effort, we've still got two characters to introduce: Assistant Chief Holland (Ving Rhames) and his aide and ex-babe Beth (Michael Michele). Beth's romantic involvement with Bobby links the various LAPD departments in this story together. Chief Holland is incorruptible. He's also Black in a department controlled by white vets and is ready to bag it all for a top position in Cleveland.

He won't. Nor will he (Rhames) have as big a part in this film as the initial advertising suggests, which is a damned shame. We can't think of many pairs of actors we'd like to see go head to head in dramatic battle as Russell and Rhames. Dark Blue chooses not to go the investigation root, preferring to spend its time revealing corruption and criminality in the department, forcing its cops to make decisions they thought they'd never have to make. You should be able to guess at least two of 'em. It's standard cop stuff, failing to deliver the big surprise ending of the other cop movie currently in theaters (Narc).

It's a shame because there's a substantial, rock solid story of right and wrong at the core of this film. It is a story of image. How the "best" and "elite" are truly the most corrupt and vile. A fraternity of evil with its own initiation rites and code of honor (sic). It is a story of organized crime hiding behind a police shield and it lands with a thud upon the screen. Setting the fall of this department in conjunction with the LA riots following the Rodney King beating lends a lot more to the story and Russell delivers a performance which outshines all of the supporting cast. We walked out with the feeling that, while there are a lot of great ideas fighting it out here, if writer David Ayer had sharpened Dark Blue's focus we'd probably be raving.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Dark Blue, he would have paid . . .


Dark Blue comes so close to grabbing the brass ring and falls short.

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