"Rollo Tamasi is the reason I became a cop. I wanted to catch the guys who thought they could get away with it. It's supposed to be about justice."
L.A. Confidential was a very pleasant surprise. I had been waiting a long time for a crime drama like this one and somehow I had never been able to see this classic film from 1997. They don't make crime dramas like they used to in the 90's anymore. L.A. Confidential belongs in the same rank as Se7en, The Usual Suspects, and Heat in my opinion. Unfortunately, in the last decade this genre has faded away. This is director Curtis Hanson's best film and despite directing many more movies in the last decade they have been decent or misses. None of his films compare to the set and mood he's established here with LA Confidential. The film is full of suspense, thrills, and has several twists along the way. This is just the kind of film I love to see. The performances were also all really strong thanks to a spectacular cast and a fabulous adapted screenplay written by Hanson and Brian Helgeland (42, Man on Fire, Mystic River). The script was adapted from James Ellroy's crime novel and it incorporates several true events from the 1950's crime world in L.A. Fans of film noir and crime thrillers will be in for a treat here because this is a really special movie and it deserves all the awards it has received because this is a very satisfying film. The last hour of this thriller is really intense and will leave you at the edge of your seat. The build up is also very satisfying because the characters and events are all well developed.
The film takes place in LA during the early 50's right after the arrest of the well known gangster, Mickey Cohen. The LA police department is as popular as ever thanks to this arrest and a TV drama glorifying them. They are prepared now to face the war over the control of the drug trade that Cohen's arrest has provoked. Among the best men in the department we have the hot headed cop, Bud White (Russell Crowe) who is willing to do what it takes as long as the guilty pay for their crimes. He`s extremely sensitive towards abused females and is ready to punish the criminals. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) on the other hand is always looking for fame considering he`s a consultant for the cop TV show. Jack has close ties with Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito) a magazine editor who makes deals with him to cover some high profile arrests after setting up their victims. Then there is the promising young officer Edmund Exley (Guy Pearce) who does things by the books and has impressed the DA and high officials for his smarts. Exley is ambitious and is looking for a big arrest in order to climb the ranks. These three men despite being very different from each other will have to join forces if they want to solve the brutal crime that has just taken place near a local cafe. Their main suspect is the millionaire, Pierce Patchett (David Strathairn), who runs a sort of high profile prostitution net involving Hollywood star look a like hookers. One of these hookers, Lynn Bracken, is played by Kim Bassinger and begins to be romantically involved with Bud. James Cromwell plays a supporting role as one of the Sergeant's in the police department.
This film received 9 Academy Award nominations including best picture and director, but only won two (Kim Bassinger for best supporting actress and Hanson for best adapted screenplay). There is something unique about this film despite the fact that the subject matter has been dealt with before a million times (corrupt cops and gangsters) and I think it has to do with the fact that there is no main character here. All three officers have the same amount of screen time and they all kind of play out like anti heroes. They are not your usual heroic cops, instead they are all flawed but easy for the viewer to identify with and root for. I was interested in what was going to happen to each one of the characters in this film. There are good enough twists for the audience to enjoy this film based on the action alone, but the performances from Spacey, Pierce, and Crowe are all so good that they just elevate this film and take it to an entire other level. Basinger is really good here as well, but I don't think she was better than the male actors in this film. L.A. Confidential is one of the best crime dramas I've seen thanks to a great script, some incredible performances, memorable characters, and a lot of thrills. This film is a must see.