Monday, April 25, 2011
(February 2003, U.S.)
One gets a certain feeling when watching any film that depicts any particular moment in history like the Pearl Harbor invasion of 1941, the JFK shooting of 1963 or maybe even the Woodstock festival of 1969. But I have to say, it's another feeling entirely when you experience a film that depicts an event that you remember first hand because you were watching it when it happened. In the case of DARK BLUE, a tough and gritty crime thriller starring Kurt Russell, it's the days leading to and including the Rodney King trial verdict and the subsequent Los Angeles riots of April 1992. I was attending college in Brooklyn at the time and my then girlfriend and I were watching the chaos in Los Angeles unfold right before our eyes on television. I remember my mother actually calling me on the phone beggine me not to step foot outside my apartment dormitory for at least the next several days. Although I didn't say this to her, I remember refusing such a request because I was determined to get to my nearest Ticketmaster outlet the next morning to stand on line for tickets for the Emerson, Lake & Palmer reunion tour of the coming summer.
(okay, I've digressed from the film enough now)
There are several kinds of cop movies that one can consider. There's the quiet, dramatic type where an acclaimed actor like Al Pacino proves his worth by being the only honest cop in a sea of police corruption in SERPICO (1973). There's the overblown, overdone and overacted bullshit action type where guys like Sylvester Stallone prove they aren't worth a damn in a terrible film like COBRA (1986). And finally, there's my favorite kind; the kind where great actors play serious cops with very big mouths who don't give a fuck about anything except doing their job and blowing the bad guy away! Gene Hackman did it in THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971), Clint Eastwood did it in all his DIRTY HARRY films, Denzel Washington did it in TRAINING DAY (2000) and Kurt Russell does it tremendously in DARK BLUE. He's about as corrept as they come and he's more than happy to live with whatever consequences may come with the territory. He's not just a cop, but a soldier who takes his orders without question from his superior-in-command. He's also corrupting his young partner who consciously cannot live with himself wearing the shoes of corruption like that. Tensions build and trust and loyalty fail as police coverups, "bad" shootings and the murder of good people pile up and threaten the safety of a city already on the brink of absolute disaster. But it's interesting to know that it's also disaster we as the viewer know cannot be avoided. We already know what the Rodney King verdicts will be and we know that the city of Los Angeles will burn as a result. We know because we saw it happen for real back in 1992. Now we see it again on film. It's also particularly interesting to note that toward the end of the film, when it appears that the true murderers in this film are going to get away, they are randomly stopped in their car by rioting L.A. gang members and one of them (the white guy) is dragged out of his car and beaten to death. Again, I say it's random, but you know the vicious son-of-a-bitch has it coming to him. Justice can be so damn ironic...on film, anyway.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Sgt. Eldon Perry (opening a telephone bill): "Aw, come on, man, who the fuck is callin' 900 numbers?"
Sally Perry: "If it's anyone, it's YOU and you don't remember."
Eldon (dials a number): "Watch this, it's the damn kid."
Recording: "Welcome to Sorority Slut Hotline."
Eldon: "Yeah, Sorority Slut Hotline! (laughs) Fuck it. Pay it. At least he's not a fag!"