Dark Blue
MGM // R // February 21, 2003
Review by Todd Siechen | posted February 26, 2003
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We've all seen them before - "good cop, bad cop" or the cop who lost his way and fights a moral battle with himself to justify the corruption he now has allowed himself to become a part of. These situations in films and television are nothing new so when a film comes a long to explore this dilemma again, it better have the ability to stand up to experienced scrutiny. Dark Blue succeeds on just about every level.

Dark Blue is set in the hotbed of the L.A. Police Department in April 1992 a few days before the acquittal of four police officers in the beating of Rodney King. Kurt Russell plays Sgt. Eldon Perry Jr., an S.I.S. cop who works in the middle of a corrupt department of the Police and for the most part hesitantly goes along with what he is told to do by his corrupt superior, Jack Van Meter (Brenden Gleeson). S.I.S. Rookie Bobby Keough is the newcomer to the department and gets schooled in the grim realities of police intimidation and corruption by Perry. Assistant Chief Holland (Ving Rhames), the only man in the department who goes after the S.I.S. and threatens to end their brand of "justice" being dished out on the Los Angeles streets. Perry and Keough must track down cold-blooded killers in a particular case that ties them much closer to their own department than either of them realize.

Kurt Russel is the shining star in this film. Watching him work brought this film up a few notches from decent to all-out watchable and even engaging in some parts. I really enjoy the way we get to see 3 generations of corruption with Van Meter being the veteran baddie who is so far gone he doesn't even hesitate in his own decision making process anymore, while Perry is in the middle of it, but still clearly has a conscience and struggles with it until something finally snaps. And last we see the young rookie who is being introduced to the process and in a very tangible way seems to be what we might have expected Perry to be like when he first joined the force. We also see the toll this kind of corruption takes on the family life with the downfall of Perry's marriage to his wife (played by Lolita Davidovich)

This film doesn't stray far from the politics and emotional ebbings of a corrupt police force, and this serves the film very nicely until the end where we get a fever-pitched virtual roller-coaster ride straight through the L.A. riots with Perry as he tries not to get killed. The ending to the film also was a bit of a disappointment and seemed a bit too "staged" (pun fully intended) but its not enough to really bring the film down too far.

Summary - This film is gripping and engaging. It asks a lot of tough questions - questions worth exploring in a world where this happens all too often. The characters are likeable, detestable and generally function in a world few of us ever get to see. After seeing Russells performance here I was asking myself why this guy isn't working more. He is a very talented and diverse actor capable of very wide array of characters. Recommended.

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