Corey Pegues, the subject of the sleek and down-to-earth documentary “A Cops and Robbers Story,” started out in the police force in 1992 and eventually became a commander in his 20-year career with the New York City Police Department. But as a black officer, Pegues was often treated with suspicion by his fellow police officers, who derisively remarked that he was too close to the community he was patrolling.
What these agents didn’t know was that Pegues had once been part of a drug gang in Queens known as the Supreme Team. When he trained new officers, his presentations included criminal data about his own friends and former associates. In fact, Pegues led a double life.
Pegues’ story is told through photographs, home videos and, most importantly, through contemporary interviews with him, his family, friends and former contacts in both the police force and members of the Supreme Team. The director, Ilinca Calugareanu, also shoots reenactments to stage the dramatic episodes from Pegues’s life, such as his failed attempt to shoot and kill a man.
The reenactments are attractively filmed, with stark cinematography and colorful costume choices. But their inclusion disrupts the flow of the story, often returning to showcase scenes that have already been explained.
The repetition of verbal and visual stories points to the limited scope of this film. “A Cops and Robbers Story” explores Pegues’ split loyalties, but the main talking interviews tend to isolate characters whose intimacy is the film’s subject. If the central problem of Pegues’s life was that his past and present could never connect, then the documentary replicates rather than resolves these tensions.
A tale of police and robbers
Not judged. Running time: 1 hour 24 minutes. In theaters and for rent or sale on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV providers.