Monday, October 24, 2011

Kurt Russell Dark Blue (2002)

Kurt Russell said about the movie Dark Blue in which he acts Detective Eldon Perry:

"Perry's a change from characters I've played in the past," says Russell. "This is a contemporary film about real people, and Perry is as real as it gets. More than any other character I've played, he's a very real person; he's got a full 360 degrees to his character." (CBS News)

I could not agree more.

In this dark and thought evoking film resembling a documentary Kurt acts as Eldon Perry, a human being who in five days goes through dramatic change in his moral standing realizing what is really important in life. The fictional character, Eldon Perry, is a member of Los Angeles Police department's elite Special Investigations Squad (SIS) who has fully adopted the famed Jesuit principle - good purpose justifies any method of action, including murder.

The powerful and perhaps somewhat underrated movie is based on a story about police brutality and corruption written by American crime fiction writer James Ellroy (1948) who was inspired by the case of Rodney King and the ensuing violent LA riots in 1992.

Rodney Glen King (born April 2, 1965) is an American best known for his involvement in a police brutality case involving the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on March 3, 1991. A bystander, George Holliday, videotaped much of the incident from a distance.
The footage showed LAPD officers repeatedly striking King with their batons while other officers stood by watching, without taking any action to stop the beating. A portion of this footage was aired by news agencies around the world, causing public outrage that raised tensions between the black community and the LAPD and increased anger over police brutality and social inequalities in Los Angeles.
Four LAPD officers were later tried in a state court for the beating; three were acquitted and the jury failed to reach a verdict for the fourth. The announcement of the acquittals sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots. A later federal trial for civil rights violations ended with two of the officers found guilty and sent to prison and the other two officers acquitted. (wikipedia)

Ron Shelton (1945), the director of Dark Blue, is known for his movies about sport. In my opinioin his work is quite special because of the narrative method he uses to examine significant social issues as, for example, in White Men Cannot Jump (1992) which he both wrote and directed. (Can you put cultural and racial issues more succinctly then when the black man tells his white friend "You can hear him but you cannot listen to Jimi Hendrix!")

Truth about dark side of life
There are no simplified caricatures so common to USA movies aiming to please the crowds and to make some bucks. This one is uncompromising, cruel and depicts life as it is. Yet, in some deep way the sad story is very rewarding as it also brings out what is good in humanity and emphasizes positive values in the midst of the anarchy and violence. (Especially the depiction of the LA riots is amazing - can this kind of things really happen in modern United States?)

In Dark Blue Kurt Russell gives a performance of his life, powerful, believable and unforgettable. With very fine lines he draws the internal change that happened in Eldon Perry from a hardened investigator ready to commit crimes himself to the wakening of his conscience watching the ambushed Detective Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman) die at 12657 Juliet. When Sergeant Beth Williamson (Michael Michele) looks at him and tells "I wish you burn in Hell" we all believe, she means what she says.

The two men, Darryl Orchard (Kurupt) and Gary Sidwell (Dash Mihok), are chilling images of human beings living without any respect to the laws of the society or the Ten Commandments of God, our basic guide to life in this world. Sadly, they also are so convincing - there really are people who can kill four totally innocent shoppers in a grocery store just for a few dollars, which they, at the end did not even get from the corrupt Commander Jack Van Meter (Brendan Gleeson).

Truth about the best among us
Assistant Chief Arthur Holland (Ving Rhames) is a handsome, well-dressed highly moral character who aims to become the first African-American police chief in the racially tense city of Los Angeles. In most crowd pleasing Hollywood movies he would be depicted as the hero of the movie - what he is - and without blemish.

But as is the case in the Bible, even the best among us have their blemishes. Talk about King David and Batsheba, for example, a cold murder of heroic Uriah.

The complexity brought to the personal life of the character Arthur Holland greatly increases the reality of this movie and the noble behaviour of his beautiful wife Janelle Holland (Khandi Alexander) tells about the power of love and forgiveness in subdued tones that are therefore so much more impressive.

Family values
Family values - or lack of them - are a significant theme in Dark Blue. Sally Perry (Lolita Davidovich) is so effective as the desperate housewife who gets enough of her neurotic overworking husband and whose departure leaves the house cold and empty. She returns to the scene at the end of the movie with their son who is depicted beside her as a non-corrupted version of his father and grandfather.

No wonder Sally is filmed with such skill and intelligence - Lolita is after all the wife of director Ron Shelton and mother of their two children!

Movie about us, human beings
Although Dark Blue concentrates on police work and the impact on them of the very dark side of society they are constantly dealing with the movie is really a realistic and truthful description of us, humans.

Similar temptations, similar roads to corruption, similar total loss of human values, can happen in many different professions and even if the results are not as violent as in the world of police or army, they can be as devastating.

And yet, amidst all this evil that we people do, there is something deep inside every person, no matter how hardened criminal, that the Bible calls conscience (συνείδησις syneidesis, to know with).  Something built in every person by God and something that can have such dramatically good results as the downfall of Commander Jack in this movie.

Apostle Paul 
 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.  For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
Romans 2:12-16 NIV

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