The Glass Shield (1994)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Message Movie, Police Drama  |   Release Date - Jun 2, 1995 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 109 min.  |   Countries - France, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Michael Hastings

After making a comeback of sorts with the relaxed, atmospheric To Sleep with Anger, veteran independent filmmaker Charles Burnett applied his skills to issue-oriented cop melodrama with The Glass Shield. The marriage is an odd one, but it ultimately works: Burnett's tendencies toward the ponderous and philosophical add depth to what could have had the tone of a TV movie-of-the-week. Though the film's central character is rookie cop J.J. (Michael Boatman) -- whose idealistic notions of police work are chipped away by the casual, everyday racism around him -- Burnett is very democratic with his attention, allowing the supporting players (Ice Cube, Lori Petty) to make as much of an impression as Boatman. The pat unveiling of villains in the third act may disappoint, but the film's subtle, situational concerns stay in memory.