| Award-winning crime writer James Ellroy (“L.A. Confidential”) and director David Ayer (“Training Day”) have a mutual fascination with the beauty and the ugliness of ethnically diverse Los Angeles.
Ellroy was born in the City of Angels and Ayer spent his teenage years on the troubled streets of South Central. They both share a passionate admiration for the enforcement of the law by the LAPD.
They are a formidable dynamic duo mining familiar territory in this action-packed crime thriller.
The desired goal of keeping the urban landscape safe provides the filmmakers an opportunity to put human behavior under the microscope. Will heroism and idealism prevail over the dark forces of evil? Corruption and betrayal within the ranks of the men in blue seem natural outgrowths of power.
Detective Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is “the tip of the spear” for the specialized vice unit of the LAPD. He, along with his undercover cohorts, is under the command of Capt. Jack Wander (Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker). They are given free rein to violate standard protocols in dealing with the most repugnant elements within the community.
Their questionable modus operandi come under the scrutiny of Capt. James Biggs (Emmy-winning Hugh Laurie from “House”) of Internal Affairs.
Ludlow’s former partner is rumored to be a snitch willing to expose the dirty tactics and pull the rug out from under the vice squad. His execution-style murder implicates Ludlow. Ludlow joins forces with Paul Diskant (Chris Evans who played Johnny Storm in the “Fantastic Four” movies), a young cop from Robbery Homicide, to investigate and bring to justice the culprits who committed the crime.
This rough-and-tumble police procedural has all the bells and whistles with a high-speed chase, gunfights and a mounting body count. Anyone familiar with Ellroy’s style will not be fooled by the red herrings that attempt to camouflage the obvious and predictable outcome.
Audience interest is sustained by the gritty realism of the screenplay, cinematography, interior designs and neighborhood locations.
Reeves’ strong portrayal of the central “night watchman” character earns your begrudging respect.
This eye-opening account reveals that the complex duties of the gun-toting guardians of society go way beyond the common perception of locking up the bad people.
Keith Cohen, The Movie Guy