It’s easy to see why this sleekly executed corrupt-cop noir, which premiered on HBO, is now getting a theatrical release. Phoenix is driven by a tricky, lowdown sense of moral jaundice and by characters who run the gamut from sleazy to sleazier. Ray Liotta, with his fleshy devil-baby handsomeness, plays an essentially honorable officer in sun-dried Arizona who is also steeped in vice. He’s a compulsive gambler — a benign enough sin on the surface, except it means that he’s perpetually in hock to the sort of strong-arm bastards he should be putting behind bars. Among the film’s pungent gallery of troublemakers are Anthony LaPaglia as Liotta’s most raffishly degenerate law-enforcement colleague, Giancarlo Esposito as a flesh-peddling loan shark who waxes deadly poetic while being serviced by his latest stripper/whore, and Brittany Murphy as a succulently nasty teen vixen. The director, Danny Cannon (Judge Dredd), does deft variations on L.A. Confidential and Bad Lieutenant, but when Liotta, on a collision course with bad luck, agrees to participate in a heist, the scheme crashes in violently predictable ways. There’s even a climactic rainstorm — a sure sign that the movie, for all its skill, is taking the tropes of noir a bit too reverentially. B
Genre: Drama, Mystery and Thriller; Starring: Giancarlo Esposito, Anjelica Huston, Anthony LaPaglia, Ray Liotta, Brittany Murphy, Jeremy Piven; Director: Danny Cannon; MPAA Rating: R; Distributor: Trimark Pictures
Posted January 17 2015 — 10:36 AM EST
- 'Survivor' host Jeff Probst on Rodney's big birthday drama
- Golden Trailer Awards 2015: The winners list
- 'Criminal Minds' finale react: Another BAU member takes their leave
- Casting Net: 'Revenge' star Emily VanCamp returns for 'Captain America: Civil War'
- Jennifer Love Hewitt not returning to 'Criminal Minds': EW exclusive
- 'Kevin Hart: What Now?' and 'Barbershop 3' given 2016 release dates
- 'Mindy Project' axed at Fox; hope at Hulu?
- Free Comic Book Day: 15 superhero must-reads
- 'Pitch Perfect 2' costume designer's fashion notes
- Mourning after: Best TV episodes after a key character died
- NSYNC hair, revisited on 'It's Gonna Be May' meme day
- 'Outlander' sweats details so Lallybroch feels like home
- Bradley Cooper, Sofia & Joe, Matthew Morrison and More!