An experienced cop and his rookie partner patrol the streets of East Los Angeles while trying to keep the gang violence under control.An experienced cop and his rookie partner patrol the streets of East Los Angeles while trying to keep the gang violence under control.An experienced cop and his rookie partner patrol the streets of East Los Angeles while trying to keep the gang violence under control.
*** (out of 4)
A veteran L.A. police officer (Robert Duvall) gets teamed up with a new, hot-tempered officer (Sean Penn) just as a war between rival gangs breaks out in the streets. The two officers are constantly butting heads over the proper way to handle the situations of the street and things don't get any better once the gangs start fighting back. COLORS was a very popular movie in the day but it's not really a great film. I think there are many very good and many great things in the film but I think a major re-write on the screenplay could have really helped things because no matter how many times I watch the film I can't help but think they're trying to do way too much and end up missing a lot of stuff that should have been simple. On one hand you're looking at a cop-buddy picture and then you have a film trying to show people the law of the streets. I'm sure many were seeing these type of gangs for the first time and director Hopper certainly tries to make one understand why they're in these gangs and why they're willing to lay down their blood for their cause. What doesn't work overly well are a couple side plots dealing with Penn and his relationship with a Mexican woman (Maria Conchita Alonso) with connections to the street. Another thing that doesn't work overly well are all sorts of other subplots dealing with lower entry gang members that never really add up to much. I think there are some moments where the film goes away from the two leads for too long, which certainly makes the film drag in spots. What does work however are the performances by those two leads with both actors doing a great job and even better is the chemistry they have together. The old school Duvall and the new school Penn were the perfect selection for partners here because their acting styles are just so different that they end up mixing together so well. No actor can sell a veteran as great as Duvall and Penn was certainly starting to come into his own around this point in his career and that hot-tempered manor of his was nailed perfectly. The supporting players add some nice performances including Ron Delaney, Larry Sylvester, Don Cheadle and Marlon Wayans in a small role. I've read some reviews that say COLORS is nothing more than a blaxploitation flick for white people but I think this is a tad bit unfair. I think Hopper did a very good job at showing this gang life without glamorizing it and I also think the film does a good job at making the members humans and not just some sort of targets. Hopper certainly seemed to know the material quite well and his direction gets the job done but I think less could have been more.
- May 14, 2011