Movie Review by Susannah Macklin
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Eva Mendes, Charlotte Ayanna
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Do we really need another cop movie mixing the buddy format with the good officer / bad officer thing, adding in a pinch of grit and a few subtle black humoured nuances? Probably not. But what with a groundbreaking performance from Denzel Washington and a suprisingly flawed Ethan Hawke, it’s worth making the effort to get down to the movie theatre for this one.
Washington is officer Alonzo Harris, a veteran of LAPDs narcotics squad – dedicated to ridding the streets of drugs and filth. Hawke is Jake Hoyt, a rookie sent on a one day assessment with Harris to see if he has what it takes to make it bigtime in the underground of LAs specialist cop force. What starts out as a chance for Jake to prove himself, rapidly unravels into one hell of a day as he quickly realises Harris is as corrupt as the city scum they’re trying to overcome.
This is a reasonably well paced invigorating film which grantedly starts off slow but always feels as if there’s something sinister lurking in the background waiting to go off, which of course in the tradition of all great cop movies – there is! Antoine Fuqua’s direction is relentless in its representation of LAs seedier side and the script is spot on with street slang capturing the essence of inner city gang land as well as any John Singleton movie. Washington pulls one of his best performances yet out of a usually well reserved and dependable hat proving there’s still life in the old dog and all that. For every fine scene featuring Washington though there’s the odd cliched character. Some of the films fellow narc squad officers are just a touch over-the-top and one of them looks like every bit-part bad cop we’ve ever known. However the flaws are few and far between and it’s certainly not enough to do any more than dent what is otherwise a grippingly great movie.