Colors

1988

Colors

Critics Consensus

Colors takes a hard-hitting yet nuanced look at urban gang violence, further elevated by strong performances from a pair of well-matched leads.

81%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 32

72%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 28,429
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Movie Info

Colors stars Robert Duvall and Sean Penn as partners on the LAPD's gang crime division. Duvall had 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 Penn, but eventually comes to rely on the younger man as a valuable street contact. The central crisis is the battle for supremacy between the "Crips" and the "Bloods", with every effort to call a truce stymied by the gang members themselves and by undue police intervention.

Cast

Robert Duvall
as Officer Bob Hodges
Sean Penn
as Officer Danny McGavin
Randy Brooks
as Ron Delaney
Grand L. Bush
as Larry Sylvester
Glenn Plummer
as Clarence Brown, `High Top'
Rudy Ramos
as Melindez
Virgil Frye
as Sheriff Foster
Jack Nance
as Officer Samuels
Brian Davies
as Robert Craig
Sherman Augustus
as Officer Porter
Diaz-Parton
as Rita Gallegos
Brandon Bluhm
as Tommie Hodges
Mark Booker
as Young Crip
Eugene Collier
as Young Crip
Ron Boyd
as Cop at Sharon's
Verda Bridges
as CRASH Secretary
R.D. Call
as Rusty Baines
Lawrence Cook
as Officer Young
Brian Davis
as Robert Craig
Marianne Diaz-Parton
as Rita Gallegos
Howard Mungo
as Man at Recreation Center
Nay K. Dorsey
as Man at Recreation Center
Roy A. Nunez
as CRASH Officer
Ted Markland
as CRASH Officer
Dennis "Chicago" Fanning
as C.R.A.S.H. Officer
Tomas Goros
as Phillip
Trysh Jefferson
as Young Girl
Annie Joe Edwards
as Shouting Woman
Leon
as Killer-Bee
Tina Lifford
as Mrs. Craig
Mario López
as Felipe's Friend
Lawrence Low
as Cop at Car Wreck
Roberto Martin Marquez
as Grieving Husband
Shawn McLemore
as Willie Wright
Lawrence Lowe
as Cop at Car Wreck
Micole Mercurio
as Joan Hodges
Nigel Miguel
as Snakedance
Allan Moore
as Shooter
Ray Oriel
as Homeboy
Roger Vernon Pamplin Jr.
as Fighting Inmate
Kim Pawlik
as Officer
Anthony Pena
as Traffic Officer
Frances E. Nealy
as Neighbor Woman
Daniela Piquet
as Bird's Girlfriend
Tee Rodgers
as Dr. Feelgood
Richard Rust
as Hearing Officer
Sharon Schaffer
as Crip Girl
Ara Thorpe
as Sharon Robbins
Tony Todd
as Vietnam Vet
John Zenda
as Officer Rutley
Johnny Marr
as Musician
Glen Plummer
as Clarence 'High Top' Brown
Jo Marie Payton
as Woman #2 at Recreation Center
Paula Bellamy
as Woman #1 at Recreation Center
View All

News & Interviews for Colors

Critic Reviews for Colors

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (6)

  • Colors is a solidly crafted depiction of some current big-city horrors and succeeds largely because of the Robert Duvall-Sean Penn teaming as frontline cops. They're terrific together as members of the gang crime division of the LAPD.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Never as eccentric as The Last Movie or Out of the Blue, Colors nevertheless makes most other cop movies look formulary by comparison.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Though its story has the makings of standard stuff, and is sometimes sketchily told, nothing about 'Colors is ordinary.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • It's an exhilarating sparring match between Duvall's workmanlike fine-tuning and Penn's raw energy.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • There's great pleasure in watching these two actors work. And Hopper, a great actor himself, knows what they need to thrive.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • Colors is a special movie -- not just a police thriller, but a movie that has researched gangs and given some thought to what it wants to say about them.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Colors

  • Jul 21, 2014
    "You can lose your sight of it all, and the darkness inside you can make you feel small, but I see your true colors shining through!" Man, forget Cyndi Lauper, especially here, because we're talking about a cop movie, and it's that good, old-fashioned, generic kind of man's man's cop movie, with Robert Duvall, and Sean Penn with aviator sunglasses. You've got to love that one, cheap-looking DVD cover for this film which features that, in front of hood rats and explosions, because it shows you just how desperate Dennis Hopper is to look cool as a filmmaker. Interesting how before he was the bad guy in "Speed", Hopper, as a director, was actually guiding the cops to save the day, yet apparently still cause a lot of explosions along the way. That DVD cover must have got most of this film's money towards explosives, because I don't know how much this film can spend on hardcore action, what with its being an independent film that was likely already out a good bit of money when it got Sean Penn and Robert Duvall on board. That investment must have paid off, because people put almost $50 million into the box office and over $20 million in rentals to see Duvall and Penn take on the Bloods, Crips and Mexican gangs. Man, this movie sounds cool, but no, it's not quite that exciting, even though it doesn't put a great deal of attention into certain depths. The film opens up telling you not much of anything about the leads beyond their mission, then proceeds to meander along the goings-on of East L.A., as seen by both the cops and the gangs, and does so emptily, doing little to truly flesh out its characters, and not even having enough action to compensate for the lack of depth, like other police dramas of this type. Of course, outside of that, this is more of the same as a police drama, putting in just enough twists for you to better notice the tropes that ultimately make this a predictable, almost manufactured-feeling effort, despite an ambition which might not even be just. There is a fair deal of intrigue to this story on paper, and in execution, it is done plenty of justice, but at the end of the day, this isn't an especially meaty story concept, and it grows harder and harder to deny this the more the film drags along. Clocking in at two hours, this film outstays its welcome, and more so than you might guess, even with all of my complaints about this narrative's natural shortcomings, as it goes packed with so many layers and shifts in focus that storytelling gets to be seriously uneven, - if not episodic in feel - when it's not packed with so much do-little material that the storytelling gets to be borderline monotonous. Before too long, the film gets to be just plain aimless, meandering along with pacing and structuring so disjointed that it has to be seen in order to be believed as a blow to entertainment value and sense of momentum almost as serious as cold spells in direction which range from bland to dull. The final product left me a little cold, and although it is more inspired than I expected in a number of ways, it's also flimsier than I expected, ultimately falling flat as yet another somewhat forgettable police thriller. With that said, the final product entertains enough to get you by, or at least Dennis Hopper does. There are plenty of areas in which Dennis Hopper, as director, doesn't seem to have much of an idea as to what he's doing, what with the meandering, unfocused storytelling, but that directorial thoughtfulness can be commended for its being somewhat unique in the context of a film of this type, and for hitting moments of effectiveness which provide glimpses into what could have been. If nothing else, the subtle engagement value holds you over until Hopper delivers on some surprisingly thrilling action sequences to offer heights in a liveliness which rarely falls so considerably that you can't get some sort of a grip of the value of this story concept. This may be somewhat thin subject matter which has been done time and again, but through all of the conventions and natural shortcomings, in addition to all of the convoluted bloatings, there stands a promising portrait on gang violence, and police actions against it. Michael Schiffer's writing more-or-less obscures the potential of this film, it gets to be so flimsy, with conventions and issues in focus and pacing, as well as other issues to meet some undeniable strengths, which range from occasions of memorable wit, to moments of convincing effectiveness in a gutsy portrayal of police procedural and gang affairs. There are some surprises of uniqueness and interesting thoroughness in this drama, yet outside of that, there's not much to compliment in this still-adequately engaging affair, carried about as much as anything by the performances. It is ultimately the underwritten performances which keep most consistent in this film, and even then, there are some weak supporting players, but only a few, who can be forgotten next to the charisma of and chemistry between Sean Penn and Robert Duvall which never fail to hold your attention. The engaging efforts of the leads may be challenged by the many shortcomings of the film, yet they most recurrently represent the inspiration that goes into making the film reasonably engaging, with some solid highlights to accompany more than a few lowlights. Bottom line, little is said about the characters, and about a little uniqueness is placed into the aimlessly overdrawn, uneven and often blandly cold handling of a story of limited consequence, but not such little consequence that highlights in action, direction, writing and acting don't secure Dennis Hopper's "Colors" as a serviceable, if often limp study on the police's and L.A. gangs' brutal interactions amongst themselves and with each other. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Dec 09, 2012
    As good of an actor as Dennis Hopper is, his talent as a director is questionable. "Colors" should have been grittier and shorter, which would have made it a much more involving and realistic experience, but it isn't. Hopper's direction is uneven and unfocused, making the film feel strangely unconvincing, and just when things start to get good, there's only five minutes left. "Colors" isn't a bad film, but it could have been a great film under different direction. It's just mediocre.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Nov 18, 2010
    Didn't really like this one too much. Honestly, the over-the-top racism is what gets me here...I know they're supposed to be gang members, but stereotypes abound here, and I can't see a necessary reason for this. That aside, there's still a lot of plot holes here. At the film's end (which is really stupid, by the way), there are a lot of questions left unanswered. For instance, isn't McGavin's life still in danger? Even though some of the Crips get killed in a shoot out with 21st Street, there's still hundreds more Crips throughout Los Angeles, so even if one Crip group had a problem with McGavin, word would still get around to the other Crips, so there would still be a hit on him. I'd also like to know what happened with the Bloods in this film: they're major players early on, but then they just disappear after like a half hour. This is stupid, considering the fact that the Crips kill one of their guys at the film's start--they don't want to get revenge for this? And finally, what the hell happened with McGavin's girlfriend? This subplot is totally unresolved...I guess the writers just forgot about it...why introduce something if you're never gonna address it again? These are just a couple of issues I have with this film's logic. It still ends up being somewhat entertaining, but the flaws will leave any alert viewer with a series of annoying questions at the film's end.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 27, 2009
    A compelling and vivid look into the hard-core gang life of East Los Angeles and the efforts of the L.A.P.D and the anti-gang police unit known as C.R.A.S.H in trying to keep the gang violence under control. A seasoned street cop played brilliantly by Robert Duvall and his young hot-head rookie partner Sean Penn in a superb performance are forced to work together with anti-gang unit to stop a upcoming turf war between to rival gangs. A gritty powerful film directed very skillfully by Dennis Hopper with a outstanding supporting cast that includes Don Cheadle, Maria Conchita Alonso, Damond Wayans and Tony Todd. Recommened.
    Danny R Super Reviewer

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