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L.A. Confidential

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: L.A. Confidential

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe
Director: Curtis Hanson
Rated: R
RunTime: 136 Minutes
Release Date: September 1997
Genres: Mystery, Drama, Action, Suspense

*Also starring: James Cromwell, Guy Pearce, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, Simon Baker

Review by Walter Frith
4 stars out of 4

I've always been fascinated with crime movies and their stories of police investigation that make them so memorable and while some are too obvious and others are excruciatingly difficult to follow in detail, 'L.A. Confidential' has found the perfect medium ground suitable to entertain, inform and move its audience with stunning reality.

'L.A. Confidential' has such a wide variety of characters rich in personality development that you'll probably find one of these people you'll most likely identify with. It has all the classic developments of a crime story but even more significantly than that, this movie dwells not only on its characters but on creating an identity which is separate from any other film like it.

Set in the early 1950's in Los Angeles, 'L.A. Confidential' examines the professional lives of three police officers played in brilliant ensemble fashion by Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce. Spacey is the veteran cop who knows how to bend the rules when seeking justice but knows how to restrain himself and escape the probes of Internal Affairs and he refuses to testify in any way against any of his brother officers who may face criminal charges while Crowe is the maverick cop who will kill, frame and beat suspects he knows to be guilty in order to put them behind bars and Pearce is the straight-laced, by-the-book and clean cut cop who wears glasses and is told by everyone to 'lose them'.

Telling the story of crime in Los Angeles in the best style of film noir possible, 'L.A. Confidential' proceeds with several sub plots including one involving Spacey's professional relationship with a photo/journalist (Danny De Vito) whose ethical practice is questionable and while he certainly is an unattractive character, his information and dialogue exchanges with Spacey enhance the story that many viewers should pay close attention to. Another bonus to this movie's credit is the way each of the three cops react when faced with their most important scenes in the movie involving the discovery of vital information which may cost them their lives. It's a challenge that director Curtis Hanson is constantly faced with in distinguishing his characters apart from each other and it's a challenge he overcomes with great results.

At the core of this movie's fascinating and sharply perceptive theme is a constant reminder of how far crime has advanced over the last four and a half decades and the movie wrestles with the moral dilema and difficult question of police ethics and will leave audiences debating the question of how far cops can bend the rules in acceptable fashion if we are to agree that it's acceptable at all.

A coffee shop's mass murder dubbed the 'Nite Owl Massacre' is the focus of the film's main investigation which leads the police to probing the developmet of organized crime and which may involve corruption at a very high level within the police force. 'L.A. Confidential' has a unique and vivid style of keeping its writing fresh and alive courtesy of the film's authors (Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson based on the novel by James Ellroy) and has sultry photography and an over all impressive re-creation of the early 1950's and will leave a lasting impression on those willing to embrace its classic style of story telling. Other members of the notable cast are James Cromwell, Kim Basinger and David Strathairn.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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