Possibly the first ever gang movie of the new wave that came begun in the late 80s and continued throughout the 90s, Colors may be outshadowed by the later milestone titles of the genre, but still hold up fairly well in comparison.
Sean Penn and Robert Duvall are one of the finest actors around and both embrace their roles as the cops trying to be the good guys, often in their humane, flawed way. This is true especially with Duvall who guides the rookie cop through the hoods, but realises his own shortcomings and never comes across as an tiring, omnipotent master. The movie isn’t graphic, but the few scenes of violence there are, are skillfully coordinated and often extremely impactful.
There are a few things in the movie I did find distracting. Some of the side plot lines along with the scenes that make some sort of comedic effort should’ve really ended up on the cutting room floor. The depiction of the gangs and the hood is noticeably cinematic making many of the characters and the settings feel needlessly artificial and plasticky.