This movie circles around two detectives working on a homicide case of a cop that was recently killed while undercover. Throughout this movie, there are times when certain things are done by police procedure and other times when that doesn’t occur. When looking at race and fairness in the movie I think the most interesting part occurred when Oak and Tellis went to the body shop to question two suspects. The suspects make it clear that they would be the perfect people to pin the crime on and that no one would ask questions about if they really committed the crime because of their race. The suspect’s class is additionally a question because they are of low status and are a part of the crime that Calves was undercover trying to stop. However, they also accused Calves of being a junkie and using police resources to either get them guns or promise to keep them out of reports in order to get drugs.
With their lower class status as dealers, and their race it can create a look that will be pleasing to the department and that is where fairness and justice are not occurring in this movie. You wouldn’t think to look at the cop because they would rather force a confession out of someone who fits the image of crime or the media portrayal versus the person who actually committed the crime which is very wrong. Also throughout this whole incident, Oak is shooting at their car or is hitting them in order to get a confession even though Calves committed suicide. Overall Oak wanted the dealers to get some justice because he believed it was their fault for Calves becoming a junkie however no crime was actually committed. Calves had an addiction and that caused a problem for his work as a police officer, but that doesn’t mean someone innocent should be accused of a crime they did not commit. I think that this movie was very interesting when looking at the police procedure also. Oak had help from Art in order to make sure that Calvess autopsy was clean, or when Oak himself would cover up the crimes Kathryn committed as a teen.
This movie really reflected a broken system and that justice doesn’t always occur, however you can’t go around trying to make it happen because you believe it is someone’s fault. As a cop, Calvess could have been better and not fallen into the system of doing drugs or providing police resources to dealers. However, that was his life and he couldn’t keep his cover so it could also be seen as a means of survival. He tried to be undercover, but that didn’t work out and then he started trading favors for drugs because that seemed like the next best option. I think when looking at fairness and justice you have to consider that not everything in life will be fair and that sometimes justice won’t occur. However, as reflected in this movie you cannot blame someone because of their race or class for a problem that is occurring everywhere in the world. There are multiple cities where there are drug problems occurring with people who are addicted or might be a dirty cop. Oak could have handled the situation better and with being so personally attached to the case he should have removed himself if he was really looking for justice.
However, I can also see how he saw it as unfair to Kathryn who he has tried so hard to help. I think when considering this movie, it isn’t the portrayal of an alternative tradition cop drama. This movie has signs of negating a hero which you could argue because of such things as altering reports or trying to beat someone for a confession. However, I would say the heroes in the movie are both Oak and Tellis. Now, these two would be heroes in my opinion because they want justice, however, they don’t go about it in the traditional way and wouldn’t have the hero cop image. They aren’t going to be the prince that saves the damsel however, they might get an unexpected outcome because they choose to look at an alternative path from regular heroes. These two detectives are two different people and one could be seen as a hero for trying to find the truth while the other can be seen as the hero because they were doing the best they could to protect those closest to them.
Also, I think you can’t just assume that there is no hero because they go against the proper ways of getting justice. There are multiple shows such as Arrow or Robin Hood, who might go against law enforcement but are still considered heroes. Just like those shows law enforcement would not have helped Kathryn get a better life or have stopped Calves from becoming a drug addict. With the circumstances of this movie, I think that alternative methods were being used by the two detectives in order to help those around them. If you were to look at a definition of a hero you might find something along the lines of someone giving up something for themselves in order to help another or to help the overall good.
In my opinion, Tellis would be a hero in the movie because he is trying to find out who committed this murder that later turned out to be a suicide by following police procedure most of the time. There are times when he doesn’t however in the end when he thought Oak had killed Calvess, Tellis called for backup and wanted to catch the real killer. Tellis could be seen as the good cop and even though he steered away from what was right, sometimes because overall he just wanted to find the truth. He wanted to the person he thought killed Calvess to help others from getting hurt and to get an answer for the family of Calvess. Oak is the more complicated hero because throughout the whole movie he seems like the rogue cop that would do or convict anyone who might have committed the murder.
However, there are a couple of things that in my opinion show that he was also a hero in this movie. First was the fact that he helped Kathryn her whole life and wanted the best for her after he found her at ten years old. This did involve covering up crimes she had committed, but he wanted a better life for her. Additionally, when Calves died he tried to make it so she could get the pension. Lastly, he wanted to help Calvess when he found out about his addiction because they were close and he knew he could help him get through this problem. Oak might look like the opposite of a hero, however, what he did was to help another person or to protect someone he cared about. Overall, I think that both Tellis and Oak did things that were wrong, however, they also did things that were to benefit another person other than themselves.