This proposal provides brief insights into a crime film New Times, Old Cops. The film deals with such issues as discrimination, racism, bias, injustice, corruption. The film is a drama with elements of comedy. This proposal includes a brief summary of the film, the basic plot structure, main characters, some of the plot devices, a sample dialogue and a description of several scenes.
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Contemporary movies have to perform a number of roles. They have to entertain, reveal some of major values and, of course, make profit. Crime films have been popular for decades and they have additional connotations as they shape (as well as reflect) people’s understanding of what is lawful, acceptable, unworthy, impossible and so on (Rafter, 2006). Benshoff and Griffin (2009) also stress that films unveil numerous controversies existing in the society and it is essential to shed light on quite specific issues to make the film interesting to a wide audience. The film New Times, Old Cops has all the necessary qualities to be a successful crime film.
This proposal includes a brief summary of the film, description of the basic plot structure, main characters, some of the plot devices that will be used, a sample dialogue and a description of several scenes.
A Brief Summary
The film opens up with a scene of a triumph of one of the detectives in a police department in Chicago. The triumphant police officer, John, is a white male in his fifties. He solves a case of a Hispanic gang and all colleagues congratulate him. Phil, a young African American detective, in his early thirties, looks inspired and he tells one of his colleagues about his fascination about John who has solved dozens of cases.
Soon, Phil is approached by a detective from the internal affairs, Martin Thomas, saying that their department is corrupted and there are numerous cases of misconduct based on racial issues. Phil does not want to cooperate but when he is shown some data and when he understands that John is one of suspects who has done some unworthy things, he agrees to start his own investigation.
Phil has noticed that John is rather racist and he does even talk much with his ‘non-white’ colleagues. Phil becomes John’s partner as his former partner retires. First, there is quite a lot of tension, but Captain Gordon Miller, Phil and John’s boss, settle everything down by talking to both partners and convincing them that this can be temporary as John can be soon transferred to another department or promoted.
Captain Gordon appears in the movie from time to time. He is a wise white person in his early fifties, who is very tolerant, and who is committed to create a truly diverse department that could be exemplary. He helps Phil in many cases and he gives him good advice. Phil once tells his mother that he would like to be as successful as the captain who made a great career in police.
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Soon, Phil and John develop certain kind of friendship as John sees that Phil is a good cop. Likewise, Phil sees that John does some unworthy things like adding some evidence or being violent when making suspects confess. Phil also sees that John is very racist and biased when it comes to people of color. However, it also becomes clear that even though he is very biased, John never accuses innocent people (even though he may be racist when speaking with some witnesses or even colleagues). Phil opens up a new world to John who understands that his attitude is wrong or, at least, uncomprehensive.
John also sees that he has quite a distorted picture of ‘non-whites’. He meets Phil’s mother when the partners come to her to have a dinner. John is astounded, as he understands that African Americans can also be in the middle-class. Phil and his family is the first discovery for John who used to think that ‘Blacks’ as well as any other people of color are all poor and the majority of them are criminals. Soon John and Phil’s mother form romantic relationships.
At the same time, Phil understands that something is really going on as some criminals are too self-confident and they really get away with some crimes. Some gangs are still in the street. John and Phil come across some evidence that there is a well-established criminal group of drug dealers.
The partners share their knowledge with many colleagues but there is little evidence and all of their colleagues are very skeptical about the case (and the very existence of such a well-established group in their neighborhoods). The partners soon understand that there is a traitor in their department as one of their operations fails. In fact, this is the first time John experiences negative feedback from his colleagues who think that John has made a very foolish mistake.
During all this time, Phil says little to the internal affairs detective about John’s behavior as the young detective wants to make everything right and wants to be absolutely sure in everything. Martin tries to push on Phil and often appeals to the young detective’s background and desire to achieve justice.
Soon after the failure, one of detectives approaches the partners and notes that he also has something on the criminal group. However, the detective and his partner are killed (their car is blown) and their death makes Phil and John start the case all over again. This time the partners do not share their plans with anyone. They also get some files the killed detectives gathered (a prostitute, May, who was a friend of one of the detectives gave some files to Phil). Detective never told anyone about May and, hence, some documents were safe.
It turns out that Captain Gordon Miller is a corrupted cop who is one of bosses of the group. The partners decide to have him shadowed and they also see that Martin is also corrupted. The partners manage to film Martin and Gordon’s conversation and find out that these two cops found out that the department attracted attention of the internal affairs and they decided to give them John for his racist behavior. It is also clear that Gordon is even more racist that John is and has done a lot of unlawful things.
Soon Phil approaches Martin and tells him that he has evidence that Gordon is a boss of a dangerous criminal group and that there going to be a big deal. Phil is bluffing but Martin swallows the bait and tells Gordon about it. They decide to kill Phil and set up John but they first want to finish their affairs with the huge amount of drugs. They are caught in the middle of the deal. It turns out that Phil’s uncle is the head of the internal affairs and, even though Phil and his uncle used to have difficult relationships, Phil addressed him as he did not trust anyone.
The film finishes with the scene in the same department where everybody congratulates John and Phil for their success. Phil also tells John that he is going to transfer to internal affairs, as he understands that that department needs good cops since in that department there was already a good cop (meaning John). It also turns out that John is going to live with Phil’s mother and the partners go out of the department making jokes.
The Basic Plot Structure
The movie will have a linear plot. The major focus of the film is ideology and drama. Hence, there is no need to use a complicated storyline. Benshoff and Griffin (2009) note that movies often reflect ideology of the country. This movie addresses some of the most burning issues in the Americans society, discrimination, racism, and injustice. Hence, the major focus will be on these issues and the main characters’ behavior and attitude.
The storyline will concentrate on Phil’s perspective. The audience will be able to follow an African Americans’ view on the American society and law enforcement system. There will be no flashbacks as it may disrupt the storyline. However, the conversation between the two corrupted cops will be somewhat different (in other words, it will fall out). It will be presented as a part of the police materials. Thus, it will be partially seen from the screen of the two partners watching the two corrupted cops.
The major conflicts of the movie will be human vs human and human vs society (or the system). Thus, the conflict of racism and inclusion will be apparent. The viewers will have to take the side and judge actions of the main characters.
The Main Characters
Phil Lathan, the protagonist: (Damon Kyle Wayans, Jr.)
Phil is a young African American detective who strives for doing right things and achieving justice in the society. He comes from a middle-class family. His father, who was a lawyer, died several years go. Phil wants to make the streets of the city safer. He understands that discrimination still persists in the American society and he also wants to eliminate it, at least where he can.
Phil does not want to work in the internal affairs department as he thinks that it is certain kind of betrayal but he understands that even police offices are not free from bias, discrimination and corruption. Hence, he agrees to work there at the end of the film. Phil is an open-minded, light-hearted, decisive and strong young man. He is also cheerful and humorous (he makes jokes all the time).
John Springsten, a racist detective: (Matthew Avery Modine)
John is a white male who tends to meet African Americans who break the law. Hence, it is possible to understand that the man is prejudiced. It is also clear that he is not as racist as he seems. He is also concerned about justice and making streets safer. He appears to be open to changes as he develops friendly relationships with an African American detective and romantic relationships with an African American female.
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Gordon Miller, a corrupted cop: (Kevin Bacon)
This is quite young captain and he seems very positive at the beginning. He wants to create a diverse police department. He is understanding and he seems to strive for justice and safer streets. At the end, he shows his true colors. He is corrupted and he turns out to be one of bosses of a newly established criminal group. He is also very racist.
Martin Thomas, a corrupted internal affairs detective: (John Cusack)
Martin is a corrupted detective who only focuses on money. He has collaborated with Gordon for many years and this is the reason why Gordon was that successful in his unlawful activities.
Plot Devices Used
McGuffin is one of plot devices used. Thus, the protagonist focuses on John’s activities while more serious crimes are taking place. Thus, the viewers tend to think that this is the major focus of the film but it turns out that it is quite meaningless as a real criminal shark will be caught at the end of the film.
An element of Deus Ex Machina will also be employed. Hence, May, the prostitute, who comes from nowhere has very important evidence. Phil’s uncle also appears at the end and helps the partners to catch dangerous criminals.
Clearly, red herring is also utilized. Thus, the viewer first thinks that John is a rogue cop, and then it is clear that Gordon is a corrupted cop, finally, it becomes evident that Martin is also corrupted.
Finally, a dangler is also used and the final scene can be a start of new parts. It is clear that Phil starts working in another department and he may need to address John in the future to solve a more serious crime.
A Sample Dialogue
Martin comes into the room where Gordon is waiting for him. Gordon is calm while Martin is very nervous.
I hate this bar! Why don’t we meet somewhere else?!
It’s safe here and no one will ever find the door to this room. I understand you are the one who is afraid of everything. So, what’s up? What does your little black brat have?
He’s grown up! The wriggler has something on you!
Hmm? This is all you’ve got?! We are done!!! I mean you are done!
If I go down, you will go with me. Don’t forget. This is unexpected, but it’s ok…
It’s time to finish him. I never liked that black guy. He must die and John will be the one who kills him…
Description of a Few Scenes
As has been mentioned above the film will focus on drama. However, it is possible to add some action. For instance, a dynamic scene will be a chase after a Hispanic robber. The partners will chase the young man through the block. John is quite old so he will soon feel that he cannot chase the robber and the detective comes into position when he can shoot. John warn the robber that he is going to shoot and he is ready to shoot but Phil keeps chasing (and is simultaneously on John’s way) and finally catches the robber.
Another important scene will be the one when John is having a dinner with Phil and his mother. The three of them are talking about Phil’s past and present, about some issues in the country and the city, about Phil’s mother and her job. John comes to understanding that many African Americans are a part of the American middle class.
Benshoff, H.M., & Griffin, S. (2009). America on film: Representing race, class, gender, and sexuality at the movies. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Rafter, N. (2006). Shots in the mirrors: Crime films and society. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.