Sex, Drugs, Corruption, and Murder - L.A. Confidential
Jun 15, 2010
Review by Marie Dragonfire
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Very entertaining movie with wonderful cast.
Cons:None for me.
The Bottom Line: L.A. Confidential is a wonderfully well done movie that has held up well and definitely deserves to be seen. It isn't a movie that everyone will like though.
When I first saw the trailer for L.A. Confidential, I had no interest in seeing the movie. It just didn't look good to me at that point. Then as the saw the trailer more, I slowly started to get interested in the movie. It still took me months to see it - not until it ended up at the dollar theater that use to be here - but once I saw it, I really enjoyed it. I've watched it numerous times since then and still enjoy it.
Recommend this product?
L.A. Confidential is based on the novel of the same name by James Ellroy. I eventually read the book after seeing the movie. It has been long enough that I can't remember a lot, but the book is much more complicated and spans a longer time frame. I think I like the movie version better. People who haven't read the book can enjoy the movie. It may seem like I am sharing a lot when I discuss the plot, but I'm really only touching the surface of everything that happens.
In the early 1950's, corruption is all around in Los Angeles. Sergeant Jack Vincennes is a technical advisor for the tv show featuring detectives. Jack also tips off Sid Hudgens from Hush-Hush, a tabloid paper, about busts involving famous or at least somewhat famous people. In return, Jack gets tons of publicity since he is in the pictures of the arrests. He also gets some cash as well.
Bud White is a cop who is thought of as a violent, mindless thug by many. He doesn't have a problem beating a confession out of a suspect or planting evidence if that is needed to close a case. Captain Dudley Smith uses Bud to intimidate would be criminals into leaving town. Bud's partner is Dick Stensland is even more violent. He loses his job after an incident in which several cops beat up prisoners in the jail.
Ed Exley is the son of a well known for cop and he is determined to be an even better cop than his father. Ed is very ambitious and willing to do just about anything to get what he wants as far as his career is concerned. Basically no one else likes him and it only gets worse after he testifies against other cops in a police brutality case.
The three very different cops end up involved in the investigation the Night Owl case involving several people being murdered in a coffee shop. Dick Stensland is one of the victims, which is what pulls Bud in. He finds a connection to Lynn Bracken, a call girl that looks like Veronica Lake, and ends up starting a relationship with her. Ed and Jack deal with different aspects of the case, though ultimately, everything ends up being connected in some way.
L.A. Confidential is one of the most complicated movies I've seen. Because so much is going on, it does take a little while for everything to be set up. If someone doesn't pay attention when watching this one for the first time, it would be easy to get confused. I really like the complexity of the plot and think it ends up being very interesting and entertaining. The pace is a little slower, but that is necessary for all the set up that is needed. I was never bored by anything that was going on.
Sid Hudgens does a voice over during the first few minutes of L.A. Confidential that introduces a few of the characters and explains a few of the situations going on. After the voice over, Jack, Ed, and Bud are shown one night near Christmas. The men are all doing different things, but they all end up involved in something at the jail. There is fall out from that event is dealt with and for a while it seems like the movie is mainly going to deal with police corruption and misconduct. Then the murders happen at the Night Owl. From that point on, things are more complicated. I do feel like there is a good amount of mystery and suspense to what is going on. Several things happen that I didn't expect, though the final resolution makes sense.
There is a lot of violence throughout L.A. Confidential. Many characters shoot first and ask questions later, even some of the cops. Many characters are shot or injured in some way and a lot of blood is shown. The cops use shotguns in a few scenes when chasing suspects. Bud is shown beating up more than one person as part of his assignment with Dudley. Bud does have a temper problem which causes him to resort to violence once or twice. The violence does get a bit extreme in some scenes and it is probably too graphic for some viewers. The movie does deserve the R rating and this isn't one for children of any age to see.
Sex plays a part in what is going on in L.A. Confidential. Some of the stories that Sid goes after involve some kind of sex scandal. He even plots to set up a male city official with another man so he can get a juicy story. Lynn is a part of a group of celebrity look a like call girls who work for a man named Pierce Patchett. Some things about the call girl group come out during the movie, though none of it is that graphic or descriptive. Pornographic pictures turn up at one point, though they are barely visible. There is a little bit of brief nudity in the movie. Bud and Lynn start a relationship and they are show together more than once, though they are just kissing. There aren't any actual sex scenes, though it is made clear that some characters have sex.
There are a lot of characters in L.A. Confidential, and several of them aren't in that much of the movie. Bud is a tough guy who tends to do whatever is necessary to close an investigation. He tends to be overprotective of women, especially if he thinks they have been abused. He does have a bit of a temper. He is smarter than most people give him credit for. This was the first part I'd seen Russell Crowe in and I think he did a really good job with the part. Dick Stensland is Bud's partner who loses his job and becomes a murder victim. He is such a jerk of a character, I didn't care that he gets killed.
Jack is a sort of celebrity cop because of all the exposure he gets with the stories done for Hush-Hush and his connection to the popular television show Badge of Honor. He takes pay off to set up busts so Sid can be there to get the pictures. Jack isn't a bad guy, though he isn't all good either, though he does start to have doubts about things later on. Kevin Spacey is wonderful in the part. Sid is the smarmy writer for Hush-Hush who is always after Jack to set up a new titillating bust. Sid is mostly only shown when he is taking pictures or setting up another opportunity. Danny DeVito doesn't have a lot to do, but he is good in the part.
Ed has a very clear view of right and wrong and he looks down on others who don't share his values. He wants to put an end to the corruption in the department, which isn't a bad thing, though the way he goes about it isn't that good and he makes a lot of enemies. His ideals are challenged over the course of the movie. Guy Pearce does really well with the part. This was the first movie I'd seen him in too. Dudley Smith is the captain. He can be supportive or harsh with his men, depending on the situation. He tends to look at certain cops for certain things - like Bud for intimidation. James Cromwell is great in the part. Ron Rifkin turns up in a few scenes as Ellis Leow, the somewhat shady district attorney.
Lynn is one of several call girls who looks like a famous actress. She becomes involved with Bud and tends to be supportive of him. She does get caught in a bad situation at one point. Kim Basinger does well with the part. Pierce Patchett is the man running the prostitution ring with the call girls who look like actresses. He has some of the women have plastic surgery to look more like a particular actress. He isn't in a lot of the movie, but he doesn't seem like that nice of a guy. David Strathairn is fine in the part. A few other characters are around briefly without doing much.
Kim Basinger - Lynn Bracken
Graham Beckel - Dick Stensland
James Cromwell - Dudley Smith
Russell Crowe - Bud White
Danny DeVito - Sid Hudgens
Guy Pearce - Ed Exley
Ron Rifkin - Ellis Leow
Kevin Spacey - Jack Vincennes
David Strathairn - Pierce Patchett
Curtis Hanson - Director
I have seen two different DVD releases of L.A. Confidential. There are extras about the making of the movie on each one, though the two-disc special edition has more of them. The movie is also available on Blu-ray and I think the extras on it are the same as the ones on the two-disc special edition. The various extras are interesting and worth watching.
L.A. Confidential is a well done movie that has held up very well and still deserves to be seen. It is a bit complex, but it is definitely worth watching.
This review is part of CaptainD's Good Movies EpiGuide 3 Write Off.
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