The Glass Shield (1994) starring Michael Boatman, Lori Petty, Ice Cube, Michael Ironside, Don Harvey, Richard Anderson, Bernie Casey, Elliot Gould directed by Charles Burnett Movie Review

The Glass Shield (1994)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Michael Boatman as Deputy J.J. Johnson in The Glass Shield (1994)

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Police corruption, racism, sexism, blackmail and an old boys network protecting each other are not new ideas when it comes to movies and over the decades there have been some very notable movies which tackle these subjects. "The Glass Shield" whilst a movie which features these issues is not one of those notable movies, it is just another movie which features racist, sexist cops and cover-ups building its story from a variety of real events. It means that "The Glass Shield" ends up being nothing new and on the whole a familiar movie which has the surprisingly feels like a made for TV movie. That doesn't mean it isn't worth watching but it does mean that you are unlikely to remember much of it a day or two later.

Having just graduated from Police Academy Deputy J.J. Johnson (Michael Boatman) is assigned to a station where he is the first black officer much to the disdain of Commander Clarence Massey (Richard Anderson). J.J. is not the only odd one out as Deputy Deborah Fields (Lori Petty - Free Willy) is the only female amongst the officers and they both find themselves discriminated against. When J.J. becomes aware of police corruption and an old boys network amongst the white officers he and Deborah put themselves both in danger as they set about uncovering it and preventing an innocent man from being found guilty for murder.

Lori Petty as Deputy Deborah Fields in The Glass Shield (1994)

The trouble I have with "The Glass Shield" is that it ends up feeling very familiar and for all the originality which is included such as J.J. being part of an illegal arrest of a black man the focus ends up on J.J. uncovering police corruption. As such we get various revelations from those who have had crimes covered up to who is involved in the old boys network at the station but none of it feels any different to other movies which focus on police corruption. It is the same with the racist and sexist aspects of the movie with both J.J. and Deborah being victimized by the other officers as it is the same sort of thing you can see in many a movie. Now technically it works, we have this drama of secrets and lies but I would have loved to have seen something new thrown in there to make it feel fresh.

I do have other issues with "The Glass Shield" and one of those is that it ends up feeling like a TV movie. From limited action, standard camera angles, cheesy use of blue lighting and some over acting it feels like one of those movies which if it wasn't made for TV it would have been direct to video. It again boils down to the fact that visually it is all too familiar and in need of something fresh to make it memorable.

And just to add to the mounting issues I have with "The Glass Shield" it is not only the characters but the actors cast in certain roles. To put it more bluntly when I see Michael Ironside, M. Emmett Walsh and Don Harvey I immediately suspect they are going to be bad guys and when it comes to their characters they end up being just that, very familiar bad guys. It detracts from some of the better performances, those from Michael Boatman, Lori Petty and Bernie Casey although they are even saddled with some poorly written characters.

What this all boils down to is that "The Glass Shield" isn't a bad movie just an ordinary one which runs with a variety of familiar issues but unfortunately fails to add anything new to the mix.