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Dark Blue

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Dark Blue

Starring: Kurt Russell, Ving Rhames
Director: Ron Shelton
Rated: R
RunTime: 116 Minutes
Release Date: February 2003
Genres: Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Scott Speedman, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Michele

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

DARK BLUE, told with a meat cleaver approach by Ron Shelton (PLAY IT TO THE BONE), is about sadistic, lying white cops and brave, honest black cops. With its silly and supercilious dialog, this would-be hard hitting drama is hard to take seriously and even harder not to laugh at. If the story's two leads, Kurt Russell as Sgt. Eldon Perry Jr. and Ving Rhames as Deputy Chief Arthur Holland, didn't deliver such fine performances, the movie would be almost unwatchably bad.

The story is set in a waterless L.A., where all that appears to be available to drink is alcohol. Sergeant, soon to be Lieutenant, Perry drinks scotch and bourbon day and night. Even in the office he keeps a bottle out in the open in order to feed his habit, which never makes him drunk and only occasionally gives him even a hangover. Although he is a bad cop who has a take-no-prisoners approach to criminals, he is superior to his superior, Jack Van Meter (Brendan Gleeson), who is not only a killer, but a dirty cop as well.

"It was textbook," Perry says during a police investigation of one of his unit's many kills. "At the end of the day, the bullets were in the bad guys, not us." He later describes himself as being descended from a long line of gunfighters. The recycled dialog comes fast and furiously: "Your job is not to think. It is to follow orders."

Those who hate police officers will probably find DARK BLUE's long diatribe soothing and reassuring. And just in case any viewers are stupid enough to miss its obvious points, the story is set during the Rodney King riots as people loot and kill because white police officers were declared innocent of beating King. The inflammatory movie builds to a conclusion in which it wants to have you being very sympathetic to the rioters.

As the trumpets wail constantly, the movie weaves a preposterous story. Its low point? As Perry literally forces his partner, Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman), to execute a defenseless man who is on his knees begging not to be shot, a little girl looks at them from the window above. When the man is murdered, she drops her baby bottle on the pavement below as the camera zooms in and watches it crash. We then cut to the window above where the little girl, forever traumatized, has left.

DARK BLUE runs 1:56. It is rated R for "violence, language and brief sexuality" and would be acceptable for most teenagers.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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