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<I>Brooklyn’s Finest</i>: An Exhaustive Encyclopedia of Clichés I'm always fascinated by directors like Antoine Fuqua, who manage to direct something truly great early on in their career (in his case, Training Day), and then quickly devolve into making worse and worse parodies of that one critically acclaimed film until something as bad as Brooklyn's Finest happens. The good news is this is rock bottom; his next project might be great. Nowhere to go but up from here.

Brooklyn's Finest is a day in the life of three seemingly unconnected Brooklyn cops who, through the course of a shitload of gunfire, bad policework, unbelievable misery, and, most importantly, a myriad of clichés, cross each other's bloody paths in the end. It's sort of like Pulp Fiction that way, but terrible.

The cast is actually stacked with traditionally great actors -- Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke and Richard Gere play the three cops -- but the problem is that Cheadle and Hawke's storylines are so laughably flawed that two thirds of the movie are sheer madness. Cheadle's undercover with a gang of community theater reenactors of The Wire (led by Wesley Snipes in a Ron Isley costume), and Ethan Hawke is a money-strapped father of what could in all possibility be 12 different children in one house. Which, admittedly, was one of the most unintentionally hilarious plotlines I've experienced on screen in a while. Hawke comes home in one scene and you meet his three small children and you're like, oh god! Three kids! I can see how that could be difficult to afford! Then you meet his wife, who is pregnant, and you're like aak! Four kids! Then, in a later scene, you find out she's pregnant with twins. Then Hawke tucks one of the children from the first scene into bed, and you see she shares a room with a sister you never saw before. Then Hawke's playing poker and a teenage daughter appears out of nowhere to ask for money to go out. Then an additional adolescent son shows up out of nowhere to join his father's poker game, and every time this happens it gets funnier and funnier. So that's one amazing thing to look forward to if you're seeing this.

But even if Ethan Hawke's storyline were thought out a little better, the movie relies on so many clichés I can't even do them justice in print. From the characterization of every "thug" in the film, to the kind-hearted hooker Gere tries to "save," to the "tough cookie" fed handling Cheadle's undercover operation (curiously played by Ellen Barkin, who is also a fine actress... in other things), to the grizzled, "too old for this shit" Richard Gere cop waking up and drinking a bottle of whiskey for breakfast, it's all just so over the top and uninspired. And that's really a shame, because there are two moments where there is fantastic tension. Problem is, you can see what the climax is going to be from a mile away. That's a script problem rather than a directing one, but it is still an issue.

Rent this movie at the absolute most. I promise you the experience is not worth paying theater-attending money.

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