Part inner-city crime docudrama, part Dragnet-style homicide hunt, URBAN CROSSFIRE is grittily written yet destructively over-narrated.
The paths of two divergent arms of the NYPD cross when a black police officer is gunned down in Brooklyn. Uptown detectives Dan Riley (Peter Boyle) and Victor Tomasino (Ray Sharkey) want to crack the cop-killing case with their expertise, but they remain outsiders in a deadly game only the
natives can comprehend. Patrolmen Robert Dayton (Michael Boatman) and Raymond Willimson (Mario Van Peebles) try to restore order, while drug lord Justis Butler (Courtney B. Vance) extends his reign of terror through lethal muscle like Raheem (Kenny Leon) and by co-opting vulnerable home boys into
Carl Franklin (Morris Chesnut), a reformed ex-con who's been laid off from his job, veers off the straight-and-narrow when crack czar Justis purchases his brain power with serious money. Ignoring his girlfriend's pleas, Carl finds himself running with hoodlums who kill people for the most minor
offenses. Justis's thugs send a warning to a double-crosser by opening fire in the beauty parlor owned by his sister, and also massacre the street kids they hire to torch the place. Raheem wipes out the witnesses--including a frightened old man whom Carl hired--and Justis uncharacteristically does
his own dirty work by shooting Officer Williamson when he gets in the way of Justis's pursuit of a wayward courier, Loopy (Damian Pooser).
After the police grill Loopy, Riley travels south to pick up the impulsive cop-killer's trail. Although not assigned to the case, Officer Dayton begins an independent investigation which intersects Riley's. Unable to break free, Carl defies the fugitive Justis when he's told to rub out any
employees who can connect Justis with the Williamson homicide. Fearful for his girlfriend's safety, Carl finally agrees to help nail Justis after he's apprehended and tried for murder in the first degree.
While this action odyssey portrays the underbelly of drug trafficking with reasonable acuteness, its scary realism is constantly undercut by the assembly-line detective antics of the Boyle and Sharkey characters. Their familiar tough-guy act pales in comparison with the routine slaughter
practiced by the criminals who place no value on human life; the effect is like placing Kojak and Columbo in the midst of MENACE II SOCIETY. Matters are not helped by Sharkey's intrusive voiceover narration, or the shapeless cross-cutting of the two major story threads. (Graphic violence, extremeprofanity, nudity, substance abuse, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Part inner-city crime docudrama, part Dragnet-style homicide hunt, URBAN CROSSFIRE is grittily written yet destructively over-narrated. The paths of two divergent arms of the NYPD cross when a black police officer is gunned down in Brooklyn. Uptown dete… (more)