Don Cheadle did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a SAG, for portraying Mouse Alexander in Devil in a Blue Dress.
Don Cheadle, despite often being the most noted element of the film, actually does not make his full appearance until the film's final act, other than very briefly hearing his voice in a quick flashback. Cheadle suddenly appears to pull Easy out of a tight spot well after the case has become sordid enough that his own life is on the line. Luckily for Easy Mouse appears wielding two handguns that quickly calms Easy's assailant's aggression. Well once Mouse appears there's only one question that has to be asked, where's Mouse been the whole film? Cheadle in just a few seconds becomes the most interesting thing about the film, and the film is not a bad film otherwise. Cheadle though instantly establishes Mouse's personal style so well from the moment he appears. Cheadle carries himself as though he is a true bad ass in the way he points his gun, and just carries this menacing demeanor as though he is ready to kill any man who dares to cross him one way or another. Cheadle makes the whole thing have this certain ease about it though as though Mouse is the smoothest gunslinger in the old west, the only problem being that Mouse is far from the old west in both space and time.
Of course Mouse is about as problematic as he is useful because of his certain way of dealing with things, one of his first acts in the film is to shoot a man in the arm in order to interrogate him. Cheadle makes for a great hot head by making something quite alarming about Mouse, actually because Mouse isn't as good as he thinks he is. Cheadle is interesting in the way he plays it as though Mouse almost has to get too into that image Mouse has for himself. There is a certain desperation that Cheadle realizes in the whole performance of Mouse's that he pulls off in quite the interesting way. What Cheadle does so well is instead of making this simply make Mouse seem pathetic, and nonthreatening, Cheadle makes Mouse all the more dangerous seeming through his more pitiful qualities because there's such an intensity he brings with Mouse as he is someone who always seems like he has something to prove. One of my favorite moments in Cheadle's performance is when Easy has to calm a drunk Mouse down as he threatens to shoot Easy. Cheadle is great as he manages to be rather funny in portraying Mouse, even when drunk, still putting up that tough guy front, while still keeping a sense of danger as drunk Mouse seems more willing than ever to shoot someone.
What Cheadle capturs so well, and is essential to the part of Mouse is just how unpredictable he is. In his interactions with Easy, when nothing he really going on, Cheadle brings such a friendly demeanor to the man that is wholly honest. What's so good is about Cheadle's work is that he feels just as honest when Mouse threatens to shoot Easy. Mouse can go all over the place in a moments notice and Cheadle makes every one of these transitions, no matter how extreme, wholly natural because of his performance. What's also so remarkable about this is that even with all of his random behavior, which at times presents Mouse as quite the morally dubious man, Cheadle someone how makes him endearing possibly because of just how genuine of a mess that Cheadle makes the guy who can go from your best friend to your worst enemy at a moments notice. Now one could question how little Cheadle is in the actual film. He's only in that last third and even then he's used somewhat sparingly. Although I would have loved to see more of Cheadle's Mouse to begin with, Cheadle certainly does his best to make up for his late entrance. Not only does he makes the most memorable character in the film, in a very short amount of time, he also importantly energizes the last act by becoming the wild card the story needs.