Video Vault: Tough times on the mean streets of L.A.

Will Pfeifer

“Dark Blue” is the sort of movie you’ve seen before, with a corrupt cop showing the ropes to his innocent young partner. (Maybe you remember “Training Day,” which has a screenplay by the same writer, David Ayer.)

What sets “Dark Blue” apart, however, are two things: Kurt Russell and the L.A. riots.

He’s been acting for decades, but Russell has probably never been better than he is now. He was the best thing in Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof,” and he brought real passion and conviction to Disney’s “Miracle.” In 2002’s “Dark Blue,” he skates the edge of honor and evil, portraying a man whose entire life has been a lie and who’s just beginning to realize it.

As for those riots, it’s amazing no other cop film has used them as a backdrop. “Dark Blue” generates tension by building up to the Rodney King verdict (after all, we know what’s coming), then stages its final scenes amid the chaos of the post-verdict streets.

It’s so dangerous it’s almost surreal, but it’s also frighteningly realistic. Combined with Russell’s tense performance, it’s makes for a powerful movie.

ContactWill Pfeifer at (815) 987-1244 or wpfeifer@rrstar.com.