Russel Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce. How much more can you ask for from a movie? These three extremely talented actors each plays a cop in L.A. Confidential, a crime film set in the 1950s. Like Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, the film is shot like in a noir-ish style, complete with the cops, detectives, and dames. It follows the intertwining stories of three very different police officers in a crime ridden and corrupted Los Angeles. Crowe plays Bud White, a cop who likes to use violence to bring down criminals. Spacey is Sergeant Jack Vincennes, who purposely sets up celebrity arrests in order to be paid off by the local gossip publication, Hush-Hush magazine. The only seemingly uncorrupted officer is Ed Exley, played here by Guy Pearce. Exley is extremely ambitious, and will follow protocol to achieve a higher rank and personal satisfaction.
Brian Helgeland’s screenplay gives this film a pulpy feel. Adapted from a novel of the movie’s namesake, the script is fresh and gritty: a fully character driven story, with many noir elements and plot twists. The dialogue is tremendously entertaining, and at many times, hilarious. Director Curtis Hanson works with his screenwriter to flesh out the Los Angeles portrayed here, as well as its unique people. The two filmmakers meld together very well, and make something smart, funny, and special.
Another thing that is so great about this movie is that it features three fantastic actors at the top of their respective games. Each gives an Oscar worthy performance (surprisingly, none of them were even nominated). Russel Crowe gives the best performance of the bunch, (just two years before the start of his three-year-in-a-row acting nomination streak), with Kevin Spacey and Guy Pearce not far behind. The supporting cast is also very strong here, with the likes of Kim Basinger, James Cromwell (you’ll never watch Babe the same way again), Danny DeVito, and David Strathairn gracing the screen.
An example of very fine filmmaking, just about everything in this movie works. It is well made and has one of the best scripts of the late 1990′s. of For anyone looking to have a really good time with a movie, L.A. Confidential would be a great place to start. This is a very solid romp, with a good mixture of seriousness, humor, and character motivation. If anyone says otherwise, tell them to hush-hush.