This is the story about the different career paths taken by three Brooklyn police officers that cause them to end up in the same dangerous crime-ridden projects for different reasons, fighting to the death.
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Richard Gere is the police officer, Eddie, that is only seven days away from retiring. All he wants to do, is get it over with and not get into any troubles. He has spent his full career as a policeman doing as little as possible, barely doing his job, and avoiding any situations where he could get hurt. In his last few days, he is assigned the duty to take new recruits along with him for training. He tries to explain to the recruits that the job is not about being some kind of super cop, but is instead a job of survival. One hothead recruit, that does not listen to his advice, gets killed on his second day on the job. Another new recruit, by accident, shoots an unarmed teenage kid, killing him, while he struggles to arrest him. Eddie has no life. There nothing he feels is worth dying for but also nothing he feels is worth living for either. He has no friends, he gets no respect on the job, and his only intimate relationship is with a prostitute who sees him as only a customer even though he wants her to be his girlfriend. When he finally retires, he is suicidal. He almost shoots himself in his car, but is stopped from doing this when he sees a girl that he recognizes from a missing persons poster who has been kidnapped and is being held hostage as a sex slave for two black guys.
Ethan Hawke plays Sal, a drug enforcement officer that is having severe financial troubles, making him unable to take care of his large family. His wife is pregnant with twins. The small cramped house they live in is full of mold which makes her asthma flair up to make her sick which is negatively affecting the babies. He desperately wants to find the money to pay for the deposit to buy a better house so he can take better care of his family. He resorts to stealing money from the drug dealers, he encounters as a cop, to get the money he needs.
Don Cheadle plays Tango, an undercover cop that has taken three years to deeply infiltrate a drug gang of blacks that are running an enterprise pulling down about $50,000 a day in the projects. He is losing his ability to see right from wrong because he is targeted by other white police officers, who don't know he is undercover. The white police officers see him as a black drug dealerm that is all. To make matters worse, one other young black drug dealer is killed being robbed by a police officer and the story makes the news. On top of this, one of Tango's friends Caz (played by Wesley Snipes) from many years earlier before he was a cop, gets out of prison. Caz returns to run the drug gang that Tango is now associated with. Tango's superiors want him to set up his friend Caz to be arrested again, but Tango does not want to harm his friend because he saved him from being killed in the past. They force him to set Caz up, but before the deal goes down, Caz is betrayed by the others in the drug gang and shot in the street in front of Tango. The big bust is called off. Even though the police and Tango know who murdered Caz, they don't take any action because he is a police informant.
Eddie, Sal, and Tango all converge on the notorious Brooklyn projects at the end of the movie. Eddie, even though he is already retired, is tracking down the kidnappers of the young woman to save her, in order to finally do the right thing for once in his life. Sal is going to the same projects to rob a drug dealer of money to buy the house for his family. Tango is going to the same projects to hunt down the killer of his friend Caz. In the action-filled sequence at the end, it is not clear who will come out alive.
Best part of story, including ending:
The theme of this story is very interesting because it shows there is not such a clear distinction between right and wrong in police work.
Best scene in story:
I like the scene when Eddie decides not to kill himself and help the kidnapped young girl instead because it gives him a reason to live.
Opinion about the main character:
All the bad guys are somewhat good. All the good guys are somewhat bad. This is how it is in a complex world, so the story is very convincing.