Director William Friedkin, best known for ”The French Connection,” takes amoral cop drama to the Left Coast in To Live and Die in L.A., a film that’s both more vibrant and more nihilistic than that classic, if not its peer otherwise. It’s a kick to watch a lanky, fresh-faced William Petersen (now starring on CBS’s ”CSI”) as a federal agent who – you guessed it – plays by his own rules as he tracks down a sadistic counterfeiting kingpin (a delicious Willem Dafoe). Unfortunately, what was no doubt part of ”L.A.”’s original allure – namely, its sun-bleached rendition of Reagan-era malaise – now lends a time-capsule feel to the proceedings (as does the painful Wang Chung soundtrack).
EXTRAS A making-of doc, ”Counterfeit World,” includes Friedkin’s, Petersen’s, and Dafoe’s thoughtful deconstruction of the plot. Another, shorter feature provides an alternate take on the film’s jaw-dropping climax.