||A powerhouse performance by Denzel Washington fuels this brutal urban police drama, in which a rookie narcotics cop learns the hard way that even good cops can go very, very bad. Washington plays veteran detective Alonzo Harris, a self-proclaimed “wolf among wolves,” eager to teach his rookie partner Jake (Ethan Hawke) that normal rules don’t apply on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Caught in a web of deception, Jake watches with escalating horror as Alonzo uses his badge (and the support of his superiors) to justify a self-righteous policy of corruption. In stark contrast to most of his previous work, Denzel unleashes his dark side with fearlessness and fury, and the result is excellence without compromise. Director Antoine Fuqua (The Replacement Killers) won’t score any points for subtlety, but gritty details (including actual L.A. gang members as extras) and Hawke’s finely tuned performance are perfectly matched to Washington’s frightening volatility.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke,