DARK BLUE: DVD
Set in the Los Angeles Police Department in 1992, just before the LA riots and the acquittal of four white officers charged with the beating of black motorist Rodney King, the LAPDís elite Special Investigations Squad (SIS) is assigned a high profile quadruple homicide. Veteran detective Eldon Perry (Kurt Russell), known for his tough street tactics and fiery temper gives rookie Bobbie Keough (Scott Speedman) lessons in the grim realities of police intimidation and corruption. Meanwhile, assistant police chief Holland (Ving Rhames) is keen to end the corruption and is willing to bring down Eldon, the police chief Jack Van Meter (Brendan Gleeson) and anyone else that it takes to clean up the streets.
Review by Louise Keller:
A gritty film about police corruption, Dark Blue is a compelling and powerful drama that sits apart from many in the genre due to its portrayal of very real, albeit flawed characters. These are characters created by master story-teller James Ellroy, and screenwriter David Ayer (Training Day, The Fast And The Furious) has brought them to life on the screen as multi-dimensional characters far from perfect.
In fact it is a credit to both the writers and Kurt Russell that Eldon Perry is so real and accessible. Thereís a true art in making such a violent, volatile character like Eldon in part likeable, or at least understood, and Russell does this magnificently. Ron Shelton is the right director for the task and the street scenes are so authentic itís frightening. The fact that the story is set at the time of the Rodney King trial when racial tensions were sizzling adds greatly to the mix and itís as though the whole city of Los Angeles is holding its breath.
Lying is second nature to Eldon Ė it is as natural to him as breathing. It is also very clear what the pecking order is, when Brendan Gleesonís chillingly portrayed police chief Jack puts Eldon in his place, saying, ĎYour job is not to think, but to obey orders.í We see Eldon at home, where it is obvious that another Jack (surname Daniels) numbs the pain. Whatever real life Eldon once had with his wife and child has long gone. This is a man who has discarded and drowned his conscience.
Through the naÔve eyes of rookie detective Bobbie, we get to see and understand how life really is on the streets. We watch Bobbie getting sucked in deeper and deeper with the dishonesty, the dirty tricks, the lies, the blackmail, the killings. Itís a steep learning curve and Scott Speedman is appealing as Bobbie who learns lifeís lessons the hard way. He has the same kind of appeal of a young Matthew McConnaughy Ė not too handsome, but not hard on the eye either. I like Michael Micheleís Beth, who takes her job very seriously, but has learned how to separate her work from her private life. Lolita Davidovich leaves a strong impression as Eldonís wife Sally, and the scene in which she reads Eldon the contents of the letter she intended to leave for him, is one of the filmís most moving ones. Ving Rhames is well cast and solid as the assistant police chief, and Brendan Gleesonís smug, repulsively corrupt Jack absolutely reeks of evil.
Superb editing allows the juxtaposition of scenes to make maximum impact, while Terence Blanchardís haunting trumpet seems to scream rebellion. This is not a predictable story with a satisfying and explosive twist: itís not until the last reel that we finally get to understand what Eldon is made of. Dark blue may be the colour of the uniform, but it also highlights the dark side of life on the streets.
The DVD also offers an audio commentary with director Ron Shelton, a photo gallery, and three featurettes.
Published February 19, 2004
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DARK BLUE: DVD (M15+)
CAST: Kurt Russell, Scott Speedman, Ving Rhames, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Michele, Lolita Davidovic
DIRECTOR: Ron Shelton
SCRIPT: David Ayer (based on story by James Ellroy)
RUNNING TIME: 118 minutees
PRESENTATION: widescreen 16: 9
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary with director Ron Shelton; three featurettes; photo gallery; trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: MGM
DVD RELEASE: February 18, 2004