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Retro Reviews : L.A. Confidential, Great Movie With Elements Of A Classic


L.A. Confidential is one of the best movies of the 1990s. Even though it only got two Oscars in 1998, I think it should have beaten Titanic.

The story and acting blow Titanic out of the water.

The movie follows three cops in 1950s Los Angeles. It is a unique way of telling the story since all three of the cops’ moves are intertwined with one another.

The three cops are Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) who is corrupt and takes bribes for Hush Hush magazine impresario, Sid Hudgens (Danny Devito). Hush Hush is a celebrity gossip magazine that fits with the time and the story. Vincennes busts an actor named Matt Reynolds (Simon Baker of the Mentalist), who will have a role as the plot unfolds.

Edmund Exley (Guy Pearce) is the by-the-book cop who will do whatever he thinks is right, even if it means ratting out his fellow cops. Bud White (Russell Crowe) is a hothead who dishes out his own brand of justice, especially to women-beaters.

The main plots of the film is solving the Nite Owl murder case that leaves several people dead, including White’s partner who had just been fired.

Vincennes also tries to solve a prostitution ring that makes hookers look like movie stars. It is linked to the Nite Owl case. White’s investigation leads him to Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger), a Veronica Lake lookalike. Exley wants to solve the case because he wants to live up to his father’s reputation.

His dad was murdered and that is what made Exley become a cop.  The acting in this movie is astounding. All the actors make their characters come to life. While Crowe and Spacey are excellent in their roles, it is Pearce as Ed Exley that provides the heart of this story.

At first he is a shade of grey. You aren’t sure whether to like him or hate him. I admired his convictions even if I didn’t agree with his methods. At the end, when he faces a monumental decision, you end cheering for him.

Basinger is great as well, but I am not sure there was enough in the role to merit her winning an Oscar. Regardless, there are many excellent supporting performances in this film.

The script is deep and the viewer has to pay attention to the various twists and turns in the movie. Just when you think something is going to happen, you are thrown a curve ball. It may very well take more than one viewing to get the nuances of the story.

Overall, it is a great movie with all the elements of a classic. It helped establish Pearce and Crowe as actors on the rise. It holds up well and is worth watching more than once.

I give this movie a nine out of ten and I highly recommend it.


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]

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