Colors (1988): Sharp, Timely Policier Starring Duvall and Sean Penn

Dennis Hopper’s sharply executed thriller policier, Colors, stars Robert Duvall and Sean Penn as partners on the LAPD’s gang crime division.

At first, they represent opposite types, based on their differing age, experiences, and strategy.  Bob Hodges (Duvall)hoped to spend more time with his family, but he’s pulled back into active service because of a step-up in gang activity. He makes no secret of his contempt for his novice partner Danny McGavin (Penn, in top form), but eventually comes to rely on McGavin as a reliable street contact.

The battle for supremacy between the “Crips” and the “Bloods,” leads to disastrous results, when a truce is stymied by the gang members themselves and undue police intervention.

The film works well as a timely crime saga, grounded in the context in which it was made, as well as a more classic male buddy tale, due to top notch performances from Duvall and Penn, who show strong chemistry.

Colors stirred controversy, when the distributor altered Hopper’s version.

Running time: 2 hr.

Directed by Dennis Hopper