The ironic title refers to three police officers that operate within the grey area of the law, where upholding justice and personal interest make uncomfortable bedfellows. Such is the size of Brooklyn’s police force, none of the cops know each other.
Narcotics cop Sal (Ethan Hawke) steals cash from crime scenes to cover the cost of looking after his sick wife (Lily Taylor). Tango (Don Cheadle) works undercover and has been instructed to set up a friend (Wesley Snipes) as the means to garner a promotion. Ellen Barkin makes a brilliant cameo to bust Tango’s balls. The final piece in the jigsaw has Richard Gere playing that other favourite cliché of American cop movies, the officer who only has one week left of work before retirement.
Director Antoine Fuqua’s favourite métier (as he showed in Training Day) is the relationship between master and servant, but this becomes a sideshow in Gere’s story, as all the young cops he has to partner up with are vacuous. His personal vice is that he’s fallen in love with a harlot. The three leads are all perfectly competent in their roles, making the best of the limited material that they’re given.
The conundrums and human dilemmas contained in each of these stories are all too obviously drawn for them to appear anything but trite. Yet Fuqua, through his trademark violence and his ability to ramp up tension in every scene, ensures that there is always something interesting to watch on screen. It’s just not necessarily the actors.
The payoff where these characters converge comes at the high price of bad plotting: huge explanations and coincidences are needed to get the cops into the same building. Nonetheless it seems as though Fuqua doesn’t care about the shortfalls, just as long as the action is atmospheric.
General release from Wed 9 Jun.