There is a critical moment in Brooklyn’s Finest where Sal, a chewed-up NYPD detective (Hawke) is combing a crack house for money. He is possessed by his blind need. And while he’s raiding the place, the space is filled with the unrelenting sounds of a hip-hop jam blasting through the stereo chanting ‘Money, Money, Money, Money, Money’. That’s the kind of blatant on-the-nose film that Brooklyn’s Finest is.

We got three hard-boiled men of law: Detective Salvatore Procida (Hawke), Officer Eddie Dugan (Gere) and Detective Tango (Cheadle). All three men are stuck at a bottleneck; Sal is struggling to make ends meet, and is under pressure to pay the deposit for a house for his family and sick wife as soon as possible. Dugan is an ambivalent alcoholic about to retire after 22 years of service stripped him of any human empathy, but the force won’t let him go that easily.Tango is an undercover cop who, after years of playing a thug, is having an identity crisis and is on the cusp of a complete breakdown. The stakes are already high, but they are about to get even higher.

The film opts for stock characters and left-over crime conventions as the building blocks for its story. So what, it works. It’s no way near the level of complexity of Training Day, but it sure can match its intensity. And if any film can deliver a pot-boiler ending like Brooklyn's Finest , you will not leave it feeling cheated.

What gives the movie its stamina is the weight of the performances. In the hand of a less capable actor, Hawke’s Sal might have been louder than a police siren, but it’s his restrained performance that sells the action. Cheadle also hits the same notes. On the other hand, Gere underplays his role to a mute– it doesn’t quite work as well, but it isn’t distractingly bad. Wesley Snipes makes his first onscreen appearance in five years, showing great range and helping further elevate the film’s overall intensity.

Brooklyn's Finest is not a film willing to trust its audience, and when it hits a brick wall with its story (and boy it does) it just tiptoes around it so fast you won’t even realize. It is a testosterone melodrama disguised as gritty realism, and may surprise you with its emotional chokehold. Just follow its lead and don’t look around, because it might distract you from some vigorous thrills.