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Dark Blue (2002)

Sworn to protect. Sworn to serve. Sworn to secrecy.

Directed by:

Ron Shelton

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 118 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

Country: United States

Set in the aftermath of the 1991 beating of Rodney King, this is the latest in a long line of dirty, cynical Hollywood outings to present us with a mean and moody bent copper. We've seen this same material countless times before, and we'll doubtless see it again but, despite its crass unoriginality, it's to this movie's credit that it somehow manages to engage and even shock. It's just a pity that 'Dark Blue' suffers from intense cliché-itis.

The one old chestnut it does manage to invert is the casting of Kurt Russell, normally cast-iron in his likeability, as the deeply despicable LA investigator Eldon Perry. He's a dirty cop of the worst nature, and a racist to boot. What's worse is that he drags his naive young partner Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman) deep into his world of crooked law-enforcement, under the equally-corrupt instruction of boss Jack Van Meter (Brendan Gleeson).

If it sounds remarkably similar to 'Training Day', it's because much of it is – only with a weaker script and no guesswork required on the part of the viewer. Also like 'Training Day', the ending isn't as satisfying as is clearly intended, though this time that's because of the uncomfortable switch to Frank Capra-like feel-goodism, rather than the contrived plot wind-up of the Denzel Washington venture.

If there's one chief success here, it's the performance of Russell playing squarely against type. It's a bold move for one so used to either tongue-in-cheek macho men or happy-go-lucky fops, and one that pays off. It really is about time he did something about that mullet though.

It's Got: Some frighteningly close-up re-enactments of the LA riots.

It Needs: To make more effort to go against the grain – imaginative it aint.

Alternatives:

Cop Land, L.A. Confidential, Training Day, Unlawful Entry

Summary

A well-acted and at times extremely violent thriller. It'll hold your attention, but offer little that's fresh.

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