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By-the-book ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ nothing new for moviegoers

“Brooklyn’s Finest”

Staring: Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Richard Gere

Pitchforks: 2 out of 5

Rating: R

“Brooklyn’s Finest” is like three movies for the price of one. However, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

The movie tells three stories of three unconnected cops in Brooklyn. We’re used to movies with interlocking stories, such as “Crash” and “Traffic” — we’ve been getting a lot of them lately. But “Brooklyn’s Finest” is so congested that the audience never really comes to care about the characters.

Had the filmmakers focused on just one of the three stories, maybe a decent movie could have been produced. But the final product simply feels incomplete and hollow.

Don Cheadle plays Tango, a cop working undercover to bring down a drug dealer (Wesley Snipes). Cheadle is one of Hollywood’s most gifted actors and gives a genuinely good performance here. Lately though, he seems to be limiting himself to playing cops and agents.

The real surprise in the movie is Ethan Hawke as Sal, a cop with several children and a pregnant wife expecting twins. Hawke is terrific as a conflicted man who is desperately attempting to provide for his overly large family.

The weak link of the acting ensemble is Richard Gere as Eddie, a senior cop with only one week until retirement. I’ve liked Gere in a couple of movies. However, I’ve never found him to be that great of an actor, especially in roles that require dramatic presence.

The problem with “Brooklyn’s Finest” is we’ve seen these three characters in numerous other movies before, with the undercover cop who develops affection for the man he must take down; the good cop who must break the law to provide for his family; the aging, divorced cop who has lost his passion for the job. These are three cookie-cutter characters that are taken right out of the cliché cop handbook.

They could have done better than that.

The screenplay by Michael C. Martin features a couple of amusing twists and memorable one-liners, but his script is overflowing with too much dialogue that isn’t quite as interesting as he thinks it is.

This is one of those movies where all the characters are talking over each other. After a while, you wish that these people would shut up already.

The three stories do eventually collide in the film’s final sequence. But even then the audience has become so unattached to these characters that they don’t really care. Despite best efforts from the talented cast and its director, Antoine Fuqua, “Brooklyn’s Finest” never quite comes together.

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