- Kevin Spacey as Det. Sgt. Jack Vincennes
- Russell Crowe as Officer Wendell “Bud ” White
- Guy Pearce as Det. Lt. Edmund “Ed” Exley
- James Cromwell as Capt. Dudley Smith
- Kim Basinger as Lynn Bracken
- Danny DeVito as Sid Hudgens
Based on the novel by James Ellroy and boasting an excellent ensemble cast, L.A. Confidential takes the viewer on an intricate journey into the 50’s, exposing corruption and murder beneath the veneer of glamour and bright lights along the way. Director Curtis Hanson has fashioned an elegant, brutal and thoroughly convincing neo noir that grips you with its labyrinthine plot, excellent jazz score and perfect feel for the time.
The main focus of the film is three members of the Los Angeles Police Department; suave and confident Jack Vincennes who enjoys the limelight in Hollywood, Bud White, whose violent and hot-headed antics often clash with others and intelligent upstart Ed Exley, who does everything by the book and longs to be just as good as his late father. The paths of the three men first cross at a Christmas Party, in which prisoners and police begin brawling in the cells and the paparazzi have a field day with the story, dubbing it “Bloody Christmas”. After a massacre at a restaurant named the Nite Owl, in which one of the men’s fellow officers is killed, the men are drawn together again in order to solve the case.This case leads them through many twists and turns involving corruption within the police force, the scandal loving magazine “Hush Hush”, a prostitution ring in which the women are made to resemble movie stars, drug dealing and long-buried secrets.
The pacing of the film is magnificent, slowly revealing and concealing things to keep the viewer guessing what will happen next. The cast assembled add immeasurable impact to the story as it gradually unravels before us. Spacey is excellent as the limelight loving Jack, adding humour and impact in his scenes. Guy Pearce is well-suited to his part of the determined Exley, who is driven to succeed whilst being ostracized by his peers. Russell Crowe makes an indelible mark as the violent and troubled Bud, getting under the skin of him and revealing a rarely shown sensitive side to his character. As a prostitute who is the spitting image of Veronica Lake and caught up in the ongoing investigation, Oscar-winning Kim Basinger adds both glamour and poignancy, especially as she and Bud begin to develop feeling for each other whilst he is working on the dangerous case.
Aided by stunning cinematography and an evocative jazz score, Los Angeles almost becomes another character within the film.It becomes a hot bed of Hollywood high glamour, scandal loving people and deception round every corner. The humorous and barbed opening narration by Danny DeVito’s dirt loving tabloid journalist, in which footage from old movies and grainy paper headlines about drugs and illegal activities is shown while he speaks, clearly sums up this dichotomy of the place.
If you’re looking for a crime film with a noir sensibility and more twists than a winding serpent, then look no further than L.A. Confidential. Trust me you can’t go wrong with this excellent film.