BROOKLYN’S FINEST:

Prior to 9/11, Gotham policemen in movies were either corrupt, conflicted or on the verge or an alcohol-fueled nervous breakdown. All three of those types are present in this rather average work which resembles THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971) only in the continued presence of the subway tracks where that flick’s classic car chase was shot. All of the characters seem lifted from old Joseph Wambaugh novels, like THE NEW CENTURIONS, which were episodic, usually pessimistic outlooks on law enforcement. The new “wrinkle” in newcomer Michael C. Martin’s screenplay, not really new at all, has three separate plots involving different cops (Don Cheadle, Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke) with their own issues whose paths cross (kind of) in a climax (not really) with deadly consequences. Think of it as “CRASH (2005) with a badge” and you’ve got a fairly accurate idea of what you have. Since you’ve seen most of these people and situations before, the predictability factor comes into play in a known outcome before it even happens. Even the violent shootouts at the end feel forced and obligatory right up to the final image which gave me the impression of a writer who threw up his hands and said, “I got nothing left here.” That’s unfortunate because the three principal actors do a fairly decent job of trying to give their clichéd characters some range of emotion. I could even have appreciated the gritty, urban cinematography of New York’s most crime-ridden borough if I hadn’t kept seeing the same city block over and over again in different, unrelated scenes. Taut police dramas have the ability to draw you into their pressure cooker environment. This was a movie I just watched. CRITIC’S GRADE: C+

EXCELLENT MOVIES TO APPRECIATE THE IRISH ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY: BLOODY SUNDAY (2002), THE BOXER (1997), THE BUTCHER BOY (1997), DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE (1959), THE INFORMER (1935), IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER (1993), KNUTE ROCKNE: ALL-AMERICAN (1940), MY LEFT FOOT (1989), ODD MAN OUT (1947), THE QUIET MAN (1952), RUDY (1993), THE SECRET OF ROAN IRISH (1994)