Moviecrazed
  Web www.moviecrazed.com   



DARK BLUE


CAST: Kurt Russell, Brendan Gleeson, Scott Speedman, Ving Rhames, Michael Michele, Lolita Davidovich, Kurupt

DIRECTOR: Ron Shelton

"Sensitively directed by Ron Shelton and helped by what just might be the best performance of Kurt Russell's career, ‘Dark Blue’ is as interesting and successful as it can be within its limits, but those limits make this a more generic film than its makers intended…An actor for more than 40 years, Russell shows us things here he hasn't before, putting more of himself on the line to convey a complex personal reality. As happened with Kim Basinger in ‘L.A. Confidential,’ a lifetime of work and experience seem to have come together to make this role one to remember…If Eldon Perry is more human than his type of character usually is, the rest of ‘Dark Blue’ has trouble maintaining that standard. Despite its ‘ripped from today's headlines’ intentions, the film is unconvincing at key moments, unsure in some of its attempts to add texture to other characters, not quite up to delivering on all its ambitions to be relevant." --Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

"‘Dark Blue’ preserves the anarchic spirit of such pioneering L.A. muckraking ventures as Roman Polanski and Robert Towne’s ‘Chinatown’ (1974) and Curtis Hanson, Brian Helgeland and James Ellroy’s ‘L.A. Confidential’ (1997). If ‘Dark Blue’ is less purely entertaining, if it doesn’t quite match the narrative excitement of its two distinguished predecessors, that’s partly because it gives away its plot twists too quickly, and partly because it fails to balance good and evil as deftly and satisfyingly as ‘Chinatown’ or ‘L.A. Confidential’…Fortunately, Kurt Russell, blue-collar action-hero par excellence, is on hand to hold this picture together. He gives a mature and charismatic portrayal of a modern hero who starts out as an antihero, and rises from the ashes of corruption and dissipation to find redemption by repudiating everything that his admired predecessors in the hierarchy of that secular religion, law enforcement, once represented." --Andrew Sarris, The New York Observer

"‘Dark Blue’ takes a moral stand. It's lively but serious. It makes connections between movie-size fictional LAPD misadventure and Rodney King-size reality…Because it's a corrupt-cop film after all, ‘Dark Blue’ is spotted with only-in-the-movies coincidences…But I absorb these and a score of other movie tropes for the pleasure of watching Russell exhale and increase his gravity in middle age. I marvel at how Gleeson makes his Van Meter a whole history of easy corruption packed into one hearty, influential backroom power broker…It's pure Hollywood to have a climactic showdown among these players coincide with the day of the real Rodney King verdict and its burning aftermath -- the rioting, looting, fury, and despair that pitted citizen against citizen. In propelling invented characters through a re-creation of actual historical mayhem and demanding that audiences think about consequences and not just ogle the action, though, ‘Dark Blue’ goes where all too few films dare to venture these days--into the heart of moral darkness." --Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

"It is hard to know whom to feel sorrier for: Bobby Keough, the junior detective, or Scott Speedman, the actor who plays him. Keough is a dewy, pretty innocent ensnared in a web of tribalism and dishonesty...Keough's crisis of conscience is the movie's most obvious and least interesting narrative arc. The real center of the dramatic action is his partner, a strutting, shaggy-haired cowboy named Eldon Perry, played by Kurt Russell with the heat, precision and dexterity of a Duane Allman guitar solo. Mr. Russell, as quick and resourceful as they come, has been throwing himself away for so long in barely watchable movies like ‘Captain Ron’ and ‘3,000 Miles to Graceland’ that his performance here comes as something of a revelation…Unfortunately, the rest of the movie does not live up to Mr. Russell's performance. The other characters are thinly drawn — traced, really, from faded television-series blueprints — and the baroque busyness of the plot is a poor substitute for complexity…The systemic rottenness that Perry and his gang represent and the simmering fury of the city's abused black residents should illuminate each other, but instead they cancel each other out." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"In short, ‘Dark Blue’ suffers from a problem that, however niggling, is likely to hobble any thriller: no thrills…Kurt Russell has let himself go, for this picture, in some style—his handsomeness spreading into gluey middle age, those thin eyes sunken and dulled. Gone is the mean, punky rigor that sustained him in his great days with John Carpenter…Sensitive audiences may lament Hollywood's addiction to action movies, as if action were now the only thing on view; more troubling, though, is what happens when the action has to stop. In ‘L.A. Confidential,’ the characters' feelings bounced and barrelled along in the slipstream of the plot; in ‘Dark Blue,’ the poor plot has to wait, hanging fire, while the characters clock in for psychological duty. It should be called ‘L.A. Confessional’…I wish that the director had swerved aside from the police (who were, after all, only half of the equation) and investigated the lives and grievances of those who were finally tempted into rampage. As it is, we see them wandering like aimless ghosts, unnamed and unappeased, bearing their booty—a violin, a television, sacks of food. One guy even hauls a set of stolen golf clubs. At last, the Shelton touch." --Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

"Perry, played by Kurt Russell in an uncompromising, ultimately heartbreaking performance, is not a total monster in the end. Indeed, it is Perry’s progression from bigot to impassioned warrior for justice that makes this harsh, grimly absorbing thriller the first American must-see movie of the year…Had ‘Dark Blue’ been released a couple of months earlier, he would surely have been Oscar-nominated as Best Actor of 2002." --Guy Flatley, Moviecrazed

"Most Hollywood movies display violence without showing its human consequences. A cop kills someone, maybe broods over it a bit, and moves on. The strongest sections in ‘Dark Blue’ detail exactly how Keough, compelled to kill, is mortified by his decision…Shelton knows how to bring us up close to the cops’ fear and loathing. As the director of, among other films, ‘Bull Durham’ and ‘Tin Cup,’ he’s become the poet laureate of sports movies, but, more than being about athletics, those movies share a high sense of masculine conviviality. At its best, ‘Dark Blue’ has that same spirit, only darkened—it’s a film about how comradeship, unchecked, can lead men straight into the abyss…Kurt Russell has made some poor choices in his acting career, but this role is a reminder of how good he can be…What keeps ‘Dark Blue’ from being absolutely first-rate is a persistent pulpiness in the dialogue and plotting that, at times, makes the movie resemble a standard TV cop show… Still, the film’s failures are more provocative than the successes of most police thrillers, which aim only to show how hip and tough-talking cops are." --Peter Rainer, New York

"Shelton is a likable, generous director who's made two pretty good films (‘Blaze’ and ‘Bull Durham’), but it's not at all clear he has the chops to take on an action movie, let alone the intricacies of police politics—let alone the politics of race, about which he had more imaginative things to say in ‘White Men Can't Jump’…Despite screenwriter David Ayer's bona fides as a South-Central homey, the movie's vision of that neighborhood seems hackneyed and reductive, pared down to the usual shorthand of seedy tenements and a rap score. The Rodney King beating is no more than a scenic backdrop; Shelton and Ayer make little serious effort at commentary on the trial's significance for race relations in L.A. In a vain attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable, ‘Dark Blue’struggles to be at once realist and utopian: The system stinks, but one man with an improved attitude can make a difference." --Ella Taylor, LA Weekly