Colors is a solidly crafted depiction of some current big-city horrors and succeeds largely because of the Robert Duvall-Sean Penn teaming as frontline cops. They’re terrific together as members of the gang crime division of the LAPD.
Filmmakers alert the uninitiated right off that theirs is a tale [story by Michael Schiffer and Richard DiLello] of unequal odds, pointing out that 600 street gangs roam America’s second-largest city while local and county police directly assigned to the problem number only 250.
Drawn into this fracas is officer Bob Hodges (Duvall), married, the father of three, who’s inexpicably been forced back into the action. He’s savvy about his dealings with punks in ‘bozoland’, as Hodges calls the streets, and is unhappy about getting greenhorn Danny McGavin (Penn) as his sidekick.
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Latter is a high strung and cocksure volunteer. He not only busts them with bravado but roughs ’em up out there.
Plot takes Duvall and Penn through investigation of the latest offing of a ‘Blood’ gangmember by the rival ‘Crips’ and shows the police frustrations in working the case against nearly insurmountable obstacles. While nicely avoiding the feel of a docu, film seems to effectively capture the gang ‘culture’.
[In 1989, a 127-min. version was issued on homevideo.]