L.A. Confidential 1997

Critics score:
99 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Bob Thomas, Associated Press: Hanson's achievement as director cannot be overrated. He moves swiftly from scene to scene, yet he allows the actors space to define their characters. Producers will be adding his name to their most-wanted list. Read more

Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune: L.A. Confidential is a movie bull's-eye: noir with an attitude, a thriller packing punches. It gives up its evil secrets with a smile. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: Its intricate plot is so nihilistic and cold around the heart, its nominal heroes so amoral, so willing to sell out anyone and everyone, that the film is as initially unnerving as it is finally irresistible. Read more

Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel: Spicy and boiling-hot, this sensational early-'50s crime drama is a morality play disguised as pulp fiction -- a sprawling saga of corruption and redemption set against a flashy West Coast backdrop. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: L.A. Confidential isn't quite up there with Chinatown, but it's the closest thing to come down the Santa Monica Freeway in the last 23 years. Read more

John Hartl, Seattle Times: Hanson has directed a number of clever suspense films, but this one puts everything else he's done in the shade. L.A. Confidential is at the same time his most personal movie and Hollywood filmmaking at its best. Read more

Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine: Try to imagine this: a mainstream American movie, rife with violent and often murderous behavior, yet so densely plotted, so richly peopled, that you can't summarize it in a sentence. Read more

Susan Stark, Detroit News: It's a film that has substance and sweep to match its high sense of style. Read more

Paul Tatara, CNN.com: The multi-layered plot keeps you riveted for the best possible reason -- you can't start to imagine where the story is leading you, and the fiercely intense payoffs are repeatedly worth the extra concentration. Read more

Janet Maslin, New York Times: Curtis Hanson's resplendently wicked L.A. Confidential is a tough, gorgeous, vastly entertaining throwback to the Hollywood that did things right. Read more

Andrew Sarris, New York Observer: A parlor game has already begun as to whether the supreme acting revelation in L.A. Confidential is provided by Mr. Crowe, Mr. Spacey or Mr. Pearce. Read more

Lisa Alspector, Chicago Reader: This movie restores genre elements to a level of potency that's disturbing, satisfying, and rare as hell. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: This 1950s-era crime drama has it all, and does it all with a casual mastery that Hollywood once owned but had seemingly misplaced or lost. Read more

John Krewson, AV Club: This may be the best movie of the year; it's definitely one of the greatest crime films of all time. Read more

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: With its plot that zigs and zags like knife slashes, its cynicism stoked to the melting point, the movie brings the thrill of corruption crackingly to life. Read more

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail: A rattling good police story and a dark, laughing tone poem to the never-innocent city of illusions. Read more

David Ansen, Newsweek: You have to pay close attention to follow the double-crossing intricacies of the plot, but the reward for your work is dark and dirty fun. Read more

Jami Bernard, New York Daily News: At the center of the movie are three mismatched cops with separately fueled ambitions, ferociously played by Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce. Their combined charisma almost smashes through the screen. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: Crooked cops. The mystery and allure of Hollywood in the '50s. Death, double-crossing, and secret alliances. Paparazzi waiting to get that one breakthrough picture. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: L.A. Confidential is immersed in the atmosphere and lore of film noir, but it doesn't seem like a period picture--it believes its noir values and isn't just using them for decoration. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: Against all odds, L.A. Confidential succeeds brilliantly, right down to Jerry Goldsmith's score, which evokes his haunting theme from Chinatown without being haunted by it. Read more

Dwight Garner, Salon.com: It's the story of good white actors stranded, in the name of noir, in a movie that refuses to kick into gear until it's far too late. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: This is about one of the best crime dramas in years. Read more

David Edelstein, Slate: Stop reading. Put this review on hold until after you've seen L.A. Confidential. Read more

Jeff Strickler, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Hanson has made the film noir setting virtually another starring character. Read more

Tom Charity, Time Out: As the emotional nexus, a Veronica Lake lookalike trapped in a web of male desires, Basinger is arguably the pick of a perfect cast. Subtle, shocking, compelling and immensely assured. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Variety: An irresistible treat with enough narrative twists and memorable characters for a half-dozen films. Read more

Desson Thomson, Washington Post: There are so many things to enjoy here. Director Curtis Hanson... keeps a complex story coherent and absorbing -- if bloody at the end. Read more

Stephen Hunter, Washington Post: Hanson delivers something ever rarer in film culture, not a new film noir but an old-fashioned total movie, somehow of a single piece. Read more