Susan Granger’s review of “Dark Blue” (United Artists)
Do you remember the racially-biased Rodney King assault back in 1991? Footage from that controversial incident opens this police drama, starring Kurt Russell as Elden Perry, a boozing racist veteran of the Special Investigations Squad of the L.A.P.D.. The four white police officers who allegedly assaulted King are on trial and are going to be acquitted, a decision will ignite the 1992 South-Central urban street riots. Meanwhile, Perry is under fire from ambitious Asst. Chief Arthur Holland (Ving Rhames) who suspects him of using deadly force in an incident with his rookie undercover partner, Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman of TV’s “Felicity”), whose corrupt uncle Jack Van Meter (Brendan Gleeson), who heads their squad, has ordered them to take charge of a politically sensitive investigation, steering it away from the actual culprits and, instead, framing two innocent ex-convicts. To complicate matters further, Bobby is having a deliberately anonymous affair with a female officer (Michael Michele), while Perry’s wife (Lolita Davidovich), a Dept. of Corrections officer, is fed up with the despicable person that her husband has become. Adapted by David Eyer from a short story by James Ellroy (“L.A. Confidential”) and directed by Ron Shelton (“Bull Durham,” “Cobb”), it bears an unmistakable resemblance in its cynical amorality to “Training Day,” which was also written by David Eyer. In fact, the most memorable aspect of this film is shaggy-haired Kurt Russell’s cold, cocky, contemptible performance which ranks among the best of his career, including his indelible Snake Plissken in “Escape from New York.” On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Dark Blue” is an edgy but over-plotted 6, playing fast and loose in the name of justice.