[Movie Review] L.A. Confidential

L.A. ConfidentialStarring: Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger
Director: Curtis Hanson
Genre: Thriller
Cert: 18
Released: 1997

The problem with most “thinking” films these days is that they are too damn complicated; too many double crosses, too many suspects, too many twists…everything is just too difficult to observe and take in. Then “LA Confidential” (based on the book by James Ellroy) arrived and changed the rules.

Ed Exley (Pearce – “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, TVs “Neighbours”) is new to the force but his philosophy is not one shared by the majority of his co-officers – play it by the book. When he grasses on officers involved in an attack on hispanic inmates, he gains promotion and resentment from his peers and several officers are cautioned or kicked off the force. What Exley also gets is the unwanted attention of hot-headed Bud White (Crowe – “Romper Stomper”, “Virtuosity”). His partner (Graham Beckel) was a fall guy in the whole affair and White is determined to make Exley pay for it. Then a mass murder in a downtown restaurant starts a chain reaction of events that involves all the various characters in one way or another. And what a diverse selection of characters that is…

Jack Vincennes (Spacey – “The Usual Suspects”, “Seven”, “Glengary Glen Ross”) is the star-struck detective who is the official consultant on a TV show based around the LAPD. Vincennes has a side-earner going with sleazy magazine editor, Sid Hudgeons (Danny DeVito – “Get Shorty”), whom he tips off before he busts a celebrity for solicitation so Hudgeons can be there to take pictures for his publication. Then there is Pierce Patchett (David Strathairn – “Sneakers”) who appears to be involved in arranging the call girls, one of which is Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger – “The Getaway”).

I could delve further into the plot but I don’t think my ISP gives me enough web space to do so. The performances of the cast are first rate and I would stick my neck out and expect the Australian duo of Guy Pearce and Rusell Crowe as well as femme-fatale, Kim Basinger, to be on the Oscar shortlist this year. Spacey is as assured as ever and is developing a screen presence that only the great actors seem to nurture. Interesting to see the farmer from “Babe”, James Cromwell (already Oscar nominated), take on the role as the LAPD Chief and was much amused to hear his hybrid Irish/South African accent.

Although the movie is undoubtedly complicated, it never loses you. There are few occasions where there is nothing happening on-screen that doesn’t keep you glued – although one particular storyline that did bore me slightly was the conversations between Crowe and Basinger. It is never contrived, rarely predictable and always original.

“LA Confidential” wil be a bookmark for future crime thrillers. Keep an eye on director, Curtis Hanson.


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