February 2003
Dark Blue

Reviewed by Wilson Morales

Dark Blue
Distributor: MGM
Director: Ron Shelton
Producers: David Blocker, Caldecot Chubb, Sean Daniel, & James Jacks
Screenwriter: David Ayer based on a story by James Ellroy
Composer: Terrence Blanchard
Cast: Kurt Russell, Scott Speedman, Ving Rhames, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Michele, Lolita Davidovich, Kurupt, Jamison James




Some cops are good and some cops are bad. The good cops come with a heart of gold. They are too nice. When it comes seeing cops in films, at the end of the day they will save those from harm’s way. It doesn’t always work out for the bad cops, but there’s something exciting about them, at least on film. Lately, there has been a flux of appealing bad cops on screen that are drawing audiences to see more of them. We liked Denzel Washington so much as the evil cop in “Training Day” that he won an Oscar for his portrayal. Even on the small screen Michael Chiklis won an Emmy for his portray as a cop who sets his own rules on “The Shield.” Now comes another film that explores the life of an unethical cop. But this cop has a conscience. In Ron Shelton’s new film DARK BLUE, Kurt Russell shines as a bad cop who tries to make right what he consciously knows is wrong in the eyes of the law.

Set during the Rodney King trial in April 1992, Eldon Perry (Russell) is a veteran detective and head of the LAPD’s elite Special Investigations Squad. His latest partner, rookie cop Bobby Keough is just coming off a police investigation where he was grilled over a bust gone bad. When they get handed their latest case, a high-profiled quadruple homicide, Bobby learns the truth about police corruption and politics and how far his partner would go to get things done “their way.” Being the new guy on the squad, Bobby’s not looking to mess things up and infuriate his partner and fellow cops, but the constant intimidation and badgering from Assistant Chief Holland (Rhames) keeps him up at night and despondent about his future in the force. Holland is the only man willing to go up against the brass and stop Perry from carrying his “justice”. He wants to bring down the entire SIS, but the top captain of the SIS (Gleason) keeps him at bay. Meanwhile, as Perry reluctantly carries out his orders to do “his job” and find the killers, he becomes aware that his partner may be turning against him. Neither one of them knows what lies ahead of them as the system they work in may not be there for them in a time of need, especially when the King verdict comes down.

Back in 1992, LA cops weren’t seen in a good light and racial tensions were at the highest level. Shelton has done a good job in illustrating the corruption that existed in the police force and how politics also had a hand involved. Russell is exciting to watch because not only does he implore his way of handling situations in an unethical manner, but he has a conscience. His performance is rock-hard as they come. In his first major role since leaving TV’s FELICITY, Speedman is okay but a little bland. Michael Michele is given a bigger role as another cop involved with a fellow officer and she makes good use of her scenes. Her experience as a detective in TV’s Homicide came in hand, as her performance is more appealing here than in her strings of films (Ali, How to lose a guy in 10 days). Rhames is effective as the Assistant Chief but he could have used a little more screen time. Dark Blue has some flaws as many layers of the film are not completely drawn out, but the effective performance of Kurt Russell carries the film through those hurdles.