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Dark Blue is a 2002 film directed by Ron Shelton and starring Kurt Russell with Ving Rhames and Brendan Gleeson in supporting roles. The film is based on a story written for film by crime novelist James Ellroy and takes place during the days leading up to the Rodney King trial verdict.

Dark Blue
Dark blue poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRon Shelton
Produced by
Written byDavid Ayer
James Ellroy
Music byTerence Blanchard
CinematographyBarry Peterson
Edited byPatrick Flannery
Paul Seydor
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • December 21, 2002 (2002-12-21) (Noir in Festival)
  • February 21, 2003 (2003-02-21)
Running time
118 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million
Box office$12,150,301



In April 1992 Los Angeles, Sergeant Eldon Perry is pacing in a motel room with a shotgun and pistol. Five days earlier, two men; Darryl Orchard and Gary Sidwell, rob a convenience store for the safe in the room above the store. Four people are killed as a result with one severely wounded. Detective Bobby Keough is in a Gun Board hearing in relation to use of deadly force when his partner Perry, defends him and the two leave.

While Perry, Keough, and Jack Van Meter are celebrating at Perry's upcoming promotion, Keough is later found exonerated. Van Meter is Keough and Perry's superior who often has his subordinates fabricate stories and evidence. Van Meter goes to Orchard and Sidwell's house that night and takes the money the two stole from the safe, as they had acted recklessly in their robbery. Keough is having casual sex with a woman who is also a police officer, though they do not give each other their names.

Van Meter tells Perry and Keough to investigate the convenience store robbery, with Perry wanting to question Orchard and Sidwell. Van Meter provides a false alibi for Orchard and Sidwell and tells them to pin the robbery on someone else. Meanwhile, Assistant Chief Arthur Holland finds Perry's actions in the Gun Board hearing suspicious and also does not believe Keough killed the man he was charged. When his assistant, Beth Williamson is pulling files on Perry and Keough, she discovers the identity of her lover to be Keough.

After obtaining a search warrant with underhanded techniques, a SWAT team raids the house of the ex-cons who are to be Perry's fall guys. One of the men escapes and goes into a back alley, but is caught by Perry and Keough. Perry tells Keough to kill the man, but he has trouble pulling the trigger. Keough ultimately does kill the innocent man but is visibly shaken. When Perry arrives home later, he sees a moving truck outside of his house and his wife tells him that she is leaving. Perry says that she can keep the house instead. Meanwhile, Keough goes to Williamson's house and confesses that he killed the man under Perry's orders and says he'll testify on the corruption. Van Meter thinks Perry is going to flip on him and calls Orchard and Sidwell to kill Perry in an ambush.

Van Meter calls Perry and tells him there is a witness who has to be eliminated. Perry initially balks, but finally accepts. After running the address he learns it belongs to Orchard and Sidwell. On the news, the officers in the case of police brutality against Rodney King are found not guilty, with the resulting rioting starting. Perry packs up and heads out to the address to either arrest or kill Orchard and Sidwell.

Believing that Perry was sent by Van Meter to kill Orchard and Sidwell, Keough and Williamson also drive to the address. While all three eventually meet up in the alleys, Keough is killed by Orchard and Sidwell who were hiding on the rooftop. Williamson tearfully blames Perry for what happened. Perry calls in the incident, hesitating briefly before pursuing Orchard and Sidwell.

While the riots are now in full swing, Sidwell is dragged out of his car and beaten to death by rioters while Orchard is captured by Perry. Perry then heads to the police academy promotions ceremony, where he confesses about the corruption and implicates Van Meter. Van Meter attempts to discredit Perry but fails as Perry volunteers himself to be arrested. After the ceremony is adjourned, Perry tells Holland he is well aware he will be incarcerated and asks for help to avoid the rougher prisons. Holland says he will see what he can do.


Critical receptionEdit

William Arnold of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer gave the film a positive review. "Ron Shelton's Dark Blue is another harrowingly cynical dirty-cop movie in the recent tradition of Training Day and Narc. Yet it's so much more complex, engrossing and satisfying than those films that the comparison is not entirely fair...."[1]

However, the film received a negative review from the L.A. Weekly, "Dark Blue is stuffed to the gills with blithely improbable coincidence and subsidiary story line... Shelton is a likable, generous director who's made two pretty good films (Blaze and Bull Durham), but it's not at all clear he has the chops to take on an action movie, let alone the intricacies of police politics — let alone the politics of race, about which he had more imaginative things to say in White Men Can't Jump."[2]


  1. ^ Arnold, William (2003-02-20). "Down-and-dirty 'Dark Blue' weaves a thoroughly engrossing tale". Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  2. ^ Taylor, Ella (2003-02-20). "Our Dark Blue Places - Page 1 - Film+TV - Los Angeles". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2012-05-22.

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