Produced by Alphaville Films and Cosmic Pictures
Directed by Ron Shelton
Screenplay by David Ayer and James Ellroy
Distributed by United Artists
Produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox
Written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson
Ron Shelton’s Dark Blue opens with the infamous video of Rodney King taking a beating at the hands of four Los Angeles policemen on March 3, 1991. It closes a year later with the race riot that ensued after an all-white jury in Simi Valley exonerated the cops. This exercise of strenuous civil disobedience left 54 dead, 2,500 injured, and a billion dollars lost to theft and property damage. You would think a narrative unfolding between these events would display some respect for things as they were. This, unfortunately, is not the case. Dark Blue boasts some exceptional performers, especially Kurt Russell and Brendan Gleeson, but the script lets them down badly. Shelton gives us another corrupt-cop/innocent-cop melodrama, the kind you can see nightly on television. He and his writers, James Ellroy and David Ayer, even include the phony moral uplift TV hacks invariably epoxy onto their denouements. There are, nevertheless, traces of a good movie in this cinematic wreck, albeit buried under a paddy wagonful of clichés.