By William Wolf

DARK BLUE  Send This Review to a Friend

Kurt Russell fulfills a dynamic role as Eldon Perry, a vicious Los Angeles cop who revels in violent behavior and wallows in corruption. In "Dark Blue," directed by Ron Shelton from a screenplay by David Ayer based on a James Ellroy story, The L.A.P.D. gets a thorough lashing as a hotbed of evil. The story unfolds against the background of the trial of cops accused of beating Rodney King, thereby emphasizing the theme, and depending on the verdict, the city is about to erupt in violence. Perry winds up caught in the middle of the explosion.

This is the best role Russell has had in years and he nails down the character's wickedness but also the emptiness that leaves him sad and unfulfilled beneath the outward anger and bravado. When vicious murders occur, Perry and a rookie sidekick in the Special Investigations Squad, Bobby Keough, played naively By Scott Speedman, who isn't conditioned for Perry's villainy, are assigned to the case. But there's much more to it, linked to corrupt police boss Jack Van Meter (Brendan Gleeson.) The honest cop depicted in the hierarchy is Assistant Chief Holland, played with somber dedication to ethics by Ving Rhames. Lolita Davidovich plays Perry's fed up wife and Michael Michele portrays a cop who becomes involved with Keough.

Thanks to the performances, a generally fast-paced script and the unflinching in-context look at nasty police behavior, "Dark Blue" is attention-grabbing for most of the way. But events are topped by a totally unbelievable setup for the public revelations to come in one big mess of a scene. There's no way the situation could unfold like that, and the gambit diminishes what has gone before. A United Artists release.


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