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'Brooklyn's Finest': The Last Catholic Action Hero

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Image Credit: Phillip V. CarusoThere are a lot of bad things to enjoy about Brooklyn’s Finest, but I especially like Ethan Hawke’s crooked cop, Sal, who is simply the most Catholic human being in movie history. Sal wears a cross around his neck. He goes to Confession. He prays the Hail Mary with his daughters. There’s a cross on every wall of his house. There’s a gigantic tattoo of St. Michael the Archangel on his back. And he appears to have roughly as many children as Christ had apostles. Late in the movie, Hawke says that his wife is expecting twins. My whole theater burst out laughing. We get it: Sal is a tortured, guilt-ridden Catholic. Is there any other kind?

As a Catholic myself, I always enjoy seeing the more outré elements of my religion pop up in movies. I think The Seventh Seal should be required viewing in Sunday school. I applaud Mel Gibson for wedging a crucifix cameo into Apocalypto. But with Brooklyn’s Finest, the time has come to declare Shenanigans. Catholicism is about more than just guilt, buried secrets, and unconvincing working-class accents. We’re just as boring as the next guy. I’m talking to you, Dan Brown.

It’s partially our own fault. Catholicism has so many movie-ready motifs, like stained-glass windows, the regular use of important-sounding Latin phrases, and the Confessional Booth. But I especially blame The Godfather. Francis Ford Coppola’s mob classic crosscuts between a baptism and a slew of bloody murders. Take it from me: that makes baptism look much cooler than it actually is.

Did you see Brooklyn’s Finest, PopWatchers? Do you agree that Hollywood should start using other religions to add fake depth to one-dimensional characters? And what are your favorite Confessional scenes? I’d nominate Sin City, but I went to Catholic school, so maybe I’m just working through some issues.