L.A. Confidential (1997)


Off the Record, On the QT, and Very Hush-Hush

My roommate and I did two movies back to back, but thankfully the second one originally came out well within our lifetime.  It was one I knew about, but never really found myself that interested in watching.  But he got the movie, so I figured we might as well watch the thing.  While watching it, I found myself completely unable to stop thinking about a certain video game that I really enjoyed last year, but I’ll be mentioning that later.  For now, let’s get into my review of L.A. Confidential, based on a book by James Ellroy, written by Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson, directed by Curtis Hanson, and starring Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey, David Strathairn, Danny DeVito, Ron Rifkin, Graham Beckel, and Simon Baker.

Detective Wendell “Bud” White (Russell Crowe) and his partner, Dick Stensland (Graham Beckel), are delivering alcohol to a policeman party, while periodically stopping so Bud can whoop on some guys abusing their ladies, something he has a big problem with.  At the police station, narcotics detective Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) shows up along with a group of Mexican guys rumored to have recently attacked and beaten some police officers, and they get turned over to the night’s watch commander, Sergeant Edmund Exley (Guy Pearce).  Alcohol and rumor make their way quickly around the office, inciting the police officers to go down to the cells and attack the Mexicans.  Reporters get some pictures of it and call it “Bloody Christmas”, which makes the LA Times and tarnishes the reputation of the LAPD.  District Attorney Ellis Loew (Ron Rifkin) and Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) interview officers to figure out who will testify and who will have this pinned on them.  White won’t testify, Exley is totally on board, and even suggests using the TV show that he works on to gain leverage on Vincennes and get his support.  This whole plan gets a couple of officers, including White’s partner Stensland, is expelled.  Exley gets promoted.  Shortly after, Exley is called to the Nite Owl coffee shop and finds a large group of people murdered in the bathroom.  One of these people is Stensland.  For the rest of the movie, we follow Exley, White, and Vincennes as they try to find out what truly happened that night in the Nite Owl, but what they find may go much deeper than they expected.

I really liked LA Noire … I mean Confidential.  This was a really good movie, but all I kept thinking about the entire time is how similar this movie is to LA Noire, which gained respect for this movie, but lost a little for LA Noire.  The movie had a really interesting story, but it was perhaps a bit predictable, and it was elevated by some really good performances and some really good action.  The story of the movie is fairly classic noire movie fare, with corruption and betrayal happening with the police that’s being battled by a few good cops, and there’s a little mob action going on to boot.  You can probably figure out who the bad guy is before the movie tells you, but it’s much harder to figure out why and how.  Either way, having guessed the culprit didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the movie.  A lot of the movie was just back to back intense scenes of puzzle solving.  It could not go without saying that the movie reminds me of LA Noire.  Not just the noire style and the LA setting, but there were some scenes of collecting clues, some pretty intense interrogation scenes, and even some entire plot points that were shared with the game.  They worked really well in both.  The movie is not one that I would call “action packed”, per se, but there’s a couple of scenes with good, solid action.  One in particular that stands out is the one that ends the movie in a giant shootout that was pretty awesome.

The performances are another great part about this movie, and I can scarcely think of one that did not hold up their end of the bargain.  Crowe was the bomb in this movie.  He was a total badass, but also put in some serious acting in parts.  His part of the final shootout in the movie was particularly badass, and a later scene with Basinger was particularly well acted, but he’s pretty great throughout.  Guy Pearce is a good contrast to Crowe in this movie.  As the movie moves along, we find that they’re both good cops, but in different ways.  Pearce is all by the book and Crowe is all about seeing justice served.  Pearce is Superman, Crowe is Batman.  Unfortunately for Pearce, him being the by the books cop made me dislike him until near the end of the movie.  I’m more of a Batman kind of guy.  Spacey is still a good guy, but he’s barely a cop until the end of the movie.  He’s more of a celebrity who does police work on the side.  Kim Basinger puts on a great performance as well, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how amazing this chick looks and she was in her 40’s in this movie.  She’s almost 60 now, and I haven’t seen her in a bit, but I’d wager I would still smash.  James Cromwell did a great job as well, being very charming and likeable for the greater majority of the movie.

LA Confidential is a movie I’m happy that I finally watched.  If you’re not into games, but you heard good things about LA Noire, you can basically just watch this and get the gist of the game because they borrowed so heavily from it.  Good story, great performances, and some intense scenes and action make this a good watch.  I watched my roommate’s copy of the movie, but I would totally buy it myself as well, so it’s at least worth a rental for you.  LA Confidential gets “You look better than Veronica Lake” out of “Lookie here, the great jerkoff case of 1953.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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