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Although Dark Blue is a rare nonsports movie from Ron Shelton, this L.A. cop drama does continue the racial gamesmanship of one of the director’s previous hits. Set mostly in the days before the Rodney King beating verdict, the film could be called White Men Can’t Police. The issue here isn’t anybody’s jump shot, of course, but LAPD corruption. Eldon Perry (Kurt Russell) is a hard-drinking but quick-witted cop who plays by the rules—the rules of his clan, that is. Perry works for Special Investigations Squad boss Jack Van Meter (Brendan Gleeson), his father’s former partner and a cocky fixer whose boys keep the peace by planting evidence, lying to police review boards, and occasionally killing people in cold blood. When the story begins, Perry’s young new partner, Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman), has just been initiated into the club, having successfully deceived a shooting-inquiry board. Convinced that Keough lied, Chief Arthur Holland (Ving Rhames) plans to uncover the plot and purge the department of Van Meter and his guys. He doesn’t know that his assistant, Beth Williamson (Michael Michele), is sleeping with Keough—but then the lovers don’t realize they’re on opposite sides of the imminent showdown, either: They’ve elected to keep their professional lives private so they can concentrate on lust. Then Perry, already rattled by the departure of his wife (Lolita Davidovich), uncovers some reasons to doubt his life’s work. The crisis breaks, of course, just as furious rioters hit the streets of South Central. Adapted from a James Ellroy story by Training Day scripter David Ayer, Dark Blue recombines ingredients from lots of corrupt-cop flicks—including the recent, somewhat seamier Narc—and builds to a wildly implausible Perry speech. Still, the pace is sprightly, the vibe convincing, and the performances assured. And if the film doesn’t really have anything to say about racism or corruption, the Rodney King angle does allow for an urban-combat finale so frenzied that even Oliver Stone might envy it. —Mark Jenkins