A/V Room









Dark Blue - I want viewers to follow the story of a cop who goes to hell and sees if he can make it back

Feature by: Jack Foley

THE corrupt/flawed cop is in danger of becoming an overworked genre at the moment, what with Denzel Washington’s blistering turn in Training Day paving the way for the likes of Narc (earlier this year) and now Dark Blue.

Yet Kurt Russell’s latest addition to the series is given added significance by the fact that the story, while fictional, is set against the backdrop of some very real events - those which followed the Rodney King case in Los Angeles, in 1992, when four white cops were acquitted of beating black motorist, Rodney King.

Dark Blue producer, Cotty Chubb, had first-hand experience of the emotions that the incident stirred in the City of Angels, and immediately felt drawn to the cinematic possibilities.

"I thought about what a great movie it would be," he explained. "And a couple of years later, I had the opportunity to meet James Ellroy, who had a story to tell. It was about the Watts riot, but my partners and I at Alphaville suggested that he make it more contemporary."

Significantly, Kurt Russell was always first choice to portray the character of Eldon Perry, the uncompromising veteran whose attitudes and tactics are said to mirror those of many LAPD cops at the time of the riots.

He spent five years developing the project, having felt drawn to ‘the importance of the message in the screenplay’, as well as the challenge of playing the type of role he is not usually associated with.

"He’s a man who has become educated by the street," explains Russell, "and he’s gone over the line. But he is a man who, over the next four days, is going to find out how far over the line he’s gone. More than any other character I’ve played, he’s a real person."

The actor was also keen to make Perry a character that audiences could empathise with, despite his obvious flaws.

"People, like Eldon Perry, have a side to them that’s likeable," he continued. "However, he mixes that likeability with a volatility that is real. His hatred for certain criminals is real.

"What’s going to be interesting to see is if and where the audience lets Eldon off the hook. Where they buy Eldon and where they reject him.

"He’s a risky character, one that you can hate. But I think at times you can also like him. And, in the end, I hope they feel some compassion for and empathy with him."

Russell goes on to speak about the ensuing movie as a ‘labour of love’ for everyone involved, and points out that a lot of time was invested in getting the details right.

To help accomplish this, director, Ron Shelton, enlisted the support of former LAPD detective, Bob Souza, as a technical advisor, to help with the details of police work, to get the procedural stuff right and to humanise the cops so that they didn’t become ‘a cartoon of good and evil’.

Souza explains: "This is a fictional story, but it’s really close to me. It depicts detectives in robbery homicide, as well as in the special investigations section.

"It has been important for me to keep everything as technically accurate as I can. I retired as a detective in the robbery homicide after 20 years on the force."

However, given the film’s subject matter, the LAPD itself was not willing to give its full co-operation, which meant that actors such as Scott Speedman [Russell’s co-star] weren’t able to go on ride-alongs to help research their roles.

Yet that, in a way, has only made the filmmakers more proud of what they have achieved and they hope that audiences will be suitably impressed.

Concludes Shelton: "I would like people to be engaged by this tale through the dark world of cops, their problems and their solutions. I want them to follow the story of a cop who goes to hell and sees if he can make it back.

"I also want them to think about corruption and racism. If they come out of the theatre saying that was a really irritating movie about a bunch of crazy cops and, on the drive home, realise and say, ‘I think it was about more than that’, I will have done my job."

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z