The film has not aged well. Despite a promising concept, the acting was not up to par, and it would have been better to cast unknowns in most of the roles. As it is, Richard Anderson (Oscar Goldman of "The Six Million Dollar Man"), M. Emmet Walsh (basically every movie in the 1970s-1980s), and Michael Ironside chomp the scenery as the trio of bad cops. This is what happens when big studios get involved in indie film.
Rookie officer J.J and fellow outcast officer Deborah Shields work together to unravel the corruption of the police department without being discovered by the other officers. The two characters make an attempt to explore racism and corruption but the film falls flat. Perhaps with a stronger script, director Charles Burnett's vision could have been achieved. The characters and plot need to be more developed.
"[The Glass Shield] becomes melodramatic and lifeless the more it tries to ram home its points of social injustice. Based loosely on real incidents... it's a rigorous, angry piece of work, but it misses out on the psychological depths that have made Burnett's previous films among the glories of ... American independent moviemaking." - Peter Rainer, LA Times
From Burnett, I was hoping for a meditation on race relations within a corrupt police force or at least a strong social justice message. Instead, Burnett played to the masses in his first well-funded feature, writing and directing a plodding drama with stilted dialogue, cheesy music and villains who practically twirl their mustaches. A below-par, toothless procedural that looks like an old TV movie of the week.
It is always startling to see black lives portrayed so directly and matter of factly that they feel "normal". Startling, embarrassingly so, how the sheer basic existence of black lives is not something that really exists in popular culture. That people simply exist should be easy to believe and portray, and that it isn't, seemingly, is a massive indictment of our culture.
This good cop-bad cop movie was full of important topics that have not only stayed prevalent in today’s society, but it also has an underlying message about how much pressure minorities face in the position of a victim and in the opposite position, a cop. The character development, plot, and thrilling scenarios keeps the audience on its feet throughout the entire movie.
The message is compelling, especially when viewed in the context of what was happening in CA in the mid 90's, re: Riots, O.J. Simpson trail, etc. Still relevant today, our lives are influenced directly, or indirectly, by corrupt people of power. Enjoyed the camera movements and the 90's soundtrack.
The Glass Shield might not be a great cinematic achievement but it's still a solid piece of storytelling and, sadly, remains relevant today. It seems like Burnett had to make a few compromises to get studio support for this project, as the most important parts of the movie are the understated inter-relational moments. But they're mostly drowned out by the conspiracy narrative. Nonetheless an important movie.
Pretty good police drama. A little more time needed to be devoted to the main character's transformation from a gung-ho cop to a concerned citizen. The atmosphere of paranoia reminded me of some of the films noir that Cornell Woolrich penned. The themes of police violence, racism and cover ups are especially relevant these days.
I wasn't really that impressed with The Glass Shield, besides the evocative subject matter nothing else really stands out. I felt like I was watching a TV film, everything from the lighting to the cinematography just felt cheap. Burnett handles the subject matter so bluntly that most of the time the film comes of as melodramatic. I appreciate the message of the film, but I just wish that the film itself was better.