Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981)

Fort Apache, The Bronx

Link: Fort Apache, The Bronx

Summary: A veteran cop struggles to work in the worst crime zone in the big city, especially when a new boss shows up with a by-the-book no-nonsense philosophy about cracking down to find a recent cop killer.

Thoughts: Somewhat based on a true story, or at least on a true precinct, the film reminds one that racial tensions between cops and citizens, whether justified or not, are nothing new. The film suggests an interesting conflict between two different methods of doing police work. Do you play things completely by the book, putting the law above everything, and giving citizens the hard, sometimes violent and painful, discipline the law calls for, for their own good (“tough love” as a parent might call it)? Or is it more effective to try to understand a criminal’s background and the societal forces at work in a struggling community, perhaps ignoring what standard procedures call for, for better or worse?

Midway through the film, things get ugly when (spoiler alert) a not-so-good cop throws an innocent man off a building while trying to help subdue a riot. The main character, having witnessed this horrible deed, spends much of the rest of the film debating whether or not to turn in this friend-turned-enemy. These sort of internal conflicts in stories annoy me because the right moral answer is so obvious; it’s difficult for me to feel the weight of any moral conundrum. If a character has an internal conflict, the moral weight of both sides should be more balanced. As it is, we just sit their waiting for the main character to come to his senses, which can be agony.

Along with that, the dirty gritty poverty-stricken 70’s city feel really annoyed me. I really hate these sorts of movies that feature dirty poor people who have no motivation to do anything besides sit around and drink and do drugs, etc. It just makes me feel sad. Do something people! At least clean your rooms, for goodness sake! Doesn’t have to be perfect, but these run-down apartments and offices make me feel sad and dirty just seeing them. Of course, I know the conditions of these people was part of the movie; you couldn’t really make the movie any other way. It just makes me uncomfortable for some reason. A bit like watching Hoarders. (But at least on that show they actively try to change things.) Not that any of the film’s characters were hoarders, it was just the dirtiness of everything. I feel like I need to clean my room now.

Overall, an average film; not horrible, but I didn’t find anything particularly special here either.

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