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Dark Blue
DVD disk
Oct 8, 2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Dark Blue order
Director:
Ron Shelton

Actors:
Kurt Russell
Scott Speedman
Ving Rhames

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Tough guy Kurt Russell stars as LAPD Special Investigation section detective Eldon Perry with new, young partner Bobby (Speedman) under his wing. In 1991, a few days prior to the Rodney King trial verdict and the riots that followed, both men entangle themselves in a web of corruption and violence that stems from within the department.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
DARK BLUE is one of those weird movies that you really enjoy while you’re watching it, but when you start asking yourself a question or two about it a few minutes later, quickly dissolves into just another run-of-the-mill movie with good potential and average execution. It starts off pretty damn good, giving off the belief that it’s about to tackle the tough subject of the racial divide in Los Angeles during the time of the Rodney King trial. Quickly though, everything breaks down into a huge melting pot of easy stereotypes in which every single white cop in the LAPD is shown as a twisted spawn of the devil only out to “get the black guys” and in which every single black cop in the LAPD is shown as a church-going, justice-loving patron of goodness! Shelton’s equation is simple: white cop = bad cop, black cop = good cop. And there, as they say, goes any credibility this film may have had in terms of providing any form of genuine social commentary.

What DARK BLUE does provide though, once you get past that caricature, is one element that more than makes up for any weakness in the movie: Kurt Russell! A true man's man, Russell shines in his portrayal of a cop whose desire to rid the world of scumbags (a noble idea in itself) eventually gets the best of him and of whatever beliefs he has left in legal police procedures. He's particularly effective in scenes where he explains what's what to a stunned Speedman and for old school Kurt Russell fans...there's also a fair amount of straight up shots of him kicking asses, threatening witnesses and just being an all-around badass. Russell gets some decent support as well, especially from Speedman, who proves to be more than just a teenage heartthrob with a credible performance as a conflicted cop who’s slowly getting wiser. Ving Rhames also puts in his best Denzel Washington impression as a righteous guy who takes on the oppressive establishment.

The movie is actually a pretty slick-looking one from a purely stylistic point of view. Dark and brooding at times and funny at others, it’s a brutally violent portrait of life in some of LA’s worst neighborhoods (where the film was actually shot). It also maintains a gritty attitude up to the ending, when the last 10 minutes of the film turn into a speech worthy of Al Pacino in SCENT OF A WOMAN and sort of takes a bit of an easy way out. Not surprising though, considering Shelton took the easy way out of most controversial situations this film could have brought up. Overall, this movie is certainly fun to watch, but don’t look to it for any honest representation of social conditions. It’s basically a good way to watch Kurt Russell act tough as nails.
THE EXTRAS
Audio commentary with director Ron Shelton: Shelton offers a very straightforward commentary track. He doesn’t crack any jokes, he doesn’t go for any cute stuff, he basically just goes through it scene by scene and describes what he feels was most important about it, whether it be story, acting or shoot-related. I don’t really like the way he handled many situations in his movie, but then again the operative word is “his” movie. I do, however, like the fact that he stuck to the basics on this track.

Internal Affairs – 3 featurettes:

Code Blue (18 mins.): This is the main “documentary” on the making of the movie, complete with the standard cast and crew interviews, background on the story and the shoot as well as the script and pitch of the idea. Very standard stuff in here that is becoming a staple on every DVD.

By the Book (7 mins.): This brief section contains interviews with the art director and costume designer regarding the processes followed to make the film as realistic as possible. Again, nothing really fascinating is revealed but it’s always neat to see the amount of research and money that goes into details you would only notice if they were missing.

Necessary Force (6 mins.): Another brief feature containing an interview with the film’s technical advisor, a former LA cop. Instead of concentrating on telling Shelton how cops enter a house in the middle of the night to capture a suspect, this guy should maybe have slipped in a word about how cops aren’t all nutjobs on the loose. As it is, no amount of technical “advising” could have rescued the cops in this film from the Marion Cobretti School of Policing.

Also Included on the DVD are a Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery and the theatrical Trailer.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
This film is actually a pretty good rental since you’ll have a blast watching it the first time around, but as a purchase, it is likely to unravel like the wrinkled skin on Kurt Russell's girlfriend's face upon repeating viewings. If you want to give a couple of bucks to your rental shop, go ahead but anything more than that you should hang on to for something a bit more rewatchable.
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