Main cast: Kurt Russell (Eldon Perry), Scott Speedman (Bobby Keough), Michael Michele (Beth Williamson), Brendan Gleeson (Jack Van Meter), and Ving Rhames (Arthur Holland)
Director: Ron Shelton
Comparisons to Training Day are inevitable as Dark Blue is a movie that also sees an earnest novice cop squaring off with his corrupt mentor. I think Kurt Russell did a much better job than Denzel Washington, but Scott Speedman is too lightweight to compare to Ethan Hawke. However, the meatier plot provides Dark Blue with greater advantage over the other movie. Both movies however suffer from a transparently contrived final third act that really sabotages them.
Set in 1991 just when America is waiting for the verdict on the Rodney King trial, this story concerns two cops from LAPD, Eldon Perry and his earnest partner Bobby Keough. Unknown to Bobby, the latest murder case they are investigating is actually machinated by their corrupt superior Jack Van Meter, and Eldon is Jack’s right hand man. Bobby’s conscience will be torn when he learns of the wide extent of cover-ups going on in his department.
In the meantime, Arthur Holland is the officer investigating corruption in the LAPD, or more specifically, he has his eye on Jack and Eldon. His assistant, Beth, and Bobby have been having a semi-casual anonymous affair that is fast becoming serious for them both, and when they learn that they are opposites in the playing field, they have a lot of things to complain about, not least being the annoying use of coincidences in this movie.
Kurt Russell is truly good as Eldon Perry, a corrupt cop who is more complex than he seems at the surface. He would make one great antihero, but the movie chickens out and tries to redeem him using melodramatic anvilicious epiphany instead – ugh. He is the best thing about this movie: his simultaneously despicable yet sympathetic character tugs at my heartstrings in more ways than one. Compared to him, Mr Speedman’s just a sweet and cute guy, while Michael Michele is as robotic as her days on the TV series ER.
The movie doesn’t exactly know how to utilize its backdrop of racial tensions well: the story could have taken place today without the racial tension and I don’t think the movie will be any less better. This is a fascinating movie of a complicated antihero, and Kurt Russell more than delivers in what seems to be a rare role of a lifetime for him. He makes this movie, heck, this movie is all about him. It’s just too bad that the movie doesn’t dare to let him go down in a blaze of hellfire glory, preferring instead to take the easy way out. If it has been less timid, this movie will be a spectacular watch.