Dennis Hopper’s 1988 cop drama Colors might be a product of its time (the Rap soundtrack dates it) but it’s also pretty relevant for what’s happening today with the police force across the US. Sean Penn and Robert Duvall play patrol car partners working the tough gangland neighbourhoods of Los Angeles as the temperature rises during a street war.
Colors manages to be a film that manages to have an edgy independent sensibility and be a generic Hollywood fare all at once. Michael Schiffer’s script delivers enough hard-edged nuggets to make it standout from the glut of buddy movies that peppered the ‘80s in the wake of 48 Hours. The heart of the movie is the relationships between Penn’s young buck cop and Duvall’s seasoned pro as they navigate the tricky world of gang culture. The duo have good chemistry and Penn’s infamous ‘80s rage is present behind his eyes throughout his performance.
Dennis Hopper’s helped create the rebel nature of 1970s cinema with Easy Rider but drugs and misfires like The Last Movie and Out The Blue saw his stock dip in Hollywood. There’s a hunger to his directing of Colors that shows a man with something to prove. You can see him pushing the boundaries but not pushing them too far.
You can’t watch Colors in 2015 without thinking of the recent events in Ferguson, Ohio. There’s a lot of similarities between Hooper’s movie and this real-life upheaval. It illustrates the cyclical nature of humanity and that’s what makes Colors worthwhile watching.