1988, Movie, R, 120 mins


Hopper's controversial directorial reentry into mainstream Hollywood is a disappointingly routine effort that is neither socially irresponsible nor particularly distinguished by any insights or artfulness. The considerable controversy aroused by COLORS centered on Hopper's choice of subject matter--urban youth gangs. Set in the barrios and slums of East Los Angeles, the film is basically an all-too-familiar tale of a confident veteran cop (Duvall) with one more year to go until his retirement and his relationship with his new partner (Penn), a young, cocky, and hot-headed rookie who thinks he has all the answers. Their conflict is played out amid the shocking violence of a bloody war between LA's two most notorious gangs, the Bloods and the Crips. No one should expect a Hollywood movie to address and cure complicated social ills. In COLORS Hopper makes no attempt to provide solutions but merely presents the disturbing reality of the situation as a backdrop for the narrative. Unfortunately the end result is an unfocused hodgepodge of documentary realism, expressionism, TV cop show, liberal-message movie, and violent action film. None of these elements are handled with in a distinctive manner. In several interviews, Hopper admitted that had he initiated the project himself, he would have preferred to concentrate on the gangs rather than the cops. As it is, COLORS has a tentative, ambivalent feel to it--as if Hopper merely considered himself a hired gun who should avoid imposing too personal a vision on the material. leave a comment

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