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Dark Blue
2002 - R - 118 Mins.
Director: Ron Shelton
Producer: Ron Shelton
Written By: David Ayer
Starring: Kurt Russell, Scott Speedman, Brendan Gleeson, Ving Rhames, Lolita Davidovich
Review by: Jennie Kermode
   
Opening with grainy archive footage of the Rodney King beating, and set on the eve of the L.A. riots, Dark Blue is an ambitious picture aiming to capture the mood of a city (and, through it, a nation) by focusing on the story of one corrupt police department and those drawn into its web. With sloppy editing and mostly pedestrian direction, it's not up to the job, but that doesn't mean it's not worth two hours of your time.

What might have been just another gritty urban cop drama is lifted by a powerful performance from Kurt Russell as the brash,
self-centered Eldon, a man who does whatever it takes to get the job done, even if that means fabricating evidence and killing people in cold blood. At his best for years, Russell manages to inspire audience sympathy even when Eldon is at his worst, though we can see from the start that his glory days can't last forever and that his neglected personal life will also be a factor in his destruction. The path which Eldon follows is largely predictable, and there are a few too many dramatic speeches, yet the story, after taking a while to build, maintains its grip. Into Eldon's path stray a rookie cop still wrestling with his conscience and Ving Rhames' ambitious internal investigator. Sadly, Rhames' character is underdeveloped, and we don't really get to see this capable actor do his thing. Other cop roles are played by the book, offering no surprises.

Despite the way it looked from the trailer, Dark
Blue is not another stilted courtroom drama; as investigations proceed, the cops are still out on the beat, still up to their necks in action. This creates a varied pace which keeps things interesting. On occasion, there is genuinely shocking violence, as Russell is able to slip easily from cheerful, happy-go-lucky guy to apparent psychopath. There is also a considerable amount of racism on display, but the film does well to avoid preaching and to avoid any easy conclusions about good cops and bad cops. Overall, it is more interested in themes of anger and vengeance. It bites off more than it can chew, but what it manages to do, it does pretty well.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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