Picks and Pans Review: The Glass Shield
His brain brimming with comic book-inspired visions of crusading cops and the ink on his police academy diploma barely dry, a middle-class black man (Boatman) proudly joins the Los Angeles County sheriffs department. His career choice puzzles his family and community, who, routinely harassed and abused by the police, can't understand why he wants to wear a badge. Meanwhile, down at the station house, his fellow officers, all of whom are white, show him little trust, respect or camaraderie.
The Glass Shield is a character study as police thriller. The movie lacks the originality of director-screenwriter Charles Burnett's riveting family drama To Sleep with Anger (1990), but its central story, that of a man who after discovering a conspiracy must decide between being true to himself or true to his fellow cops, is compelling. Although there are stretches when Shield resembles an excessively earnest TV movie and the corrupt, white cops lay on the evil a trifle thick, the film gains power as it goes along.
Boatman, a China Beach veteran who has the guileless look of a choirboy, ably conveys his character's inner turmoil, and a nearly crew-cut Petty, playing the sole woman officer at the station and his only friend on the force, looks bizarre but lends able support. And here's a refreshing change: there aren't any obscenities in the script. (PG-13)