Wesley Snipes: Battered and back, and (just maybe) better than ever

From Entertainment Weekly

When Mickey Rourke, a little over a year ago, enjoyed his big comeback, every story about him made a point of cataloging his mythological mountain of trials and tribulations: the brutal battering he subjected himself to in the boxing ring, the drugs and booze and broken relationships, the botched plastic surgery, the “F-k yous!” to the movie industry and to his own fame, the lonely 3 a.m.
convenience-store runs, the whole teary raging self-destructive fall from grace.
It all got talked about, of course, because it was such a great, juicy, sad, fascinating story. But it also seemed an essential story because, by the time Rourke starred in The Wrestler, his perils were written, literally, all over his face.

If you go to see the dark new cop thriller Brooklyn’s Finest (and you should), you’ll see that something similar could be said about Wesley Snipes. Not that he ever fell nearly as far as Mickey Rourke. But Snipes, too, is an actor who had greatness within his grasp, enjoyed a period of unabashed success, and then, through a complicated series of bad circumstances (including those of his own devising), slipped between the cracks. In Brooklyn’s Finest, he plays a neighborhood drug kingpin who has recently gotten out of prison, and though the character is meant to be shrewd, hard, wary, and ruthless, Snipes gives him surprising touches of jumpiness and vulnerability. The actor, who was born in 1962, looks older here than he ever has before. It’s not just the creases in his face — it’s the haunted look of disappointment upon it, the beaten-down gaze of someone who has been through too much hardship to hide. Maybe that’s all acting, but even the finest actors draw art out of their experience, and in Brooklyn’s Finest, it feels as if Wesley Snipes is drawing on his. He takes what might have been a routine implacable-drug-lord role and gives it an undercurrent of sympathetic anxiety.

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