Movie Reviews: Dark Blue




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     United Artists (1 hr. 56 min.)
     A corrupt cops tries to do the right thing in the days leading up to the Rodney King verdict.
     Kurt Russell, Ving Rhames, Michael Michele, Scott Speedman, Brendan Gleeson
Bottom Line:


"Dark Blue" would be just another Hollywood police drama, save for the filmmakers using the Rodney King verdict as a backdrop. The film travels along familiar and predictable cop shop terrain, however, its wheels are solidly torqued with hard-boiled storytelling giving director Ron Shelton’s latest vehicle a smooth ride of authenticity.

In the tradition of "Training Day" and "Narc," Kurt Russell (Eldon Perry) stars as a modern day gunfighter assigned to the LAPD’s elite Special Investigations Squad (SIS). The unit basically rolls through South Central LA doling out hardcore street justice to criminals the courts can’t convict.

"Dark Blue’s" premise hangs on the brutal murder of four innocent people caught in the middle of a convenience store robbery committed by the police chief’s top two snitches. Perry and his new partner, Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman) are ordered by the chief (Brendan Gleeson) to hang the murders on two known sex offenders.

Keough botched his SIS initiation a week earlier when he failed to execute a suspect. The Chief’s order gives Keough a second chance to prove himself as a SIS officer by killing the framed suspects.

Perry tells Keough that the SIS does not have jails, so when you take down a suspect, make sure he stays down. Keough tries to live up to Perry’s standards, but keeps failing because he has a conscience.

Surrounding the premise is Keough’s casual sex affair with police sergeant Beth Williamson (Michael Michele) who insist that they keep their relationship on a first name basis — no questions asked.

To complicate matters, Williamson works for Assistant Chief Arthur Holland (Ving Rhames) who seems to be LA’s only honest cop. Holland knows the SIS is dirty and has to decide whether to take a job with the Cleveland PD, or stay in LA and root out SIS corruption starting with Perry and Keough.

Meanwhile the Rodney King verdict has the city on edge.

Kurt Russell, who usually stars in lame comedies or plays over-the-top action-heroes, is at the top of his game as the flawed cop who believes the end justifies the means. However, towards the end of the picture when Russell navigates his car through LA’s burning streets, one can’t help but to conjure up images of "Escape From New York’s" Snake Plissken.

Admittedly, "Dark Blue" uses a familiar formula as an outline (bad cop turns good), but the believable characters which Russell and Rhames create, highlighted by a terrific script, fills in the mold of an engrossing and complex story.



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