Working largely in cases of counterfeiting, LA based Secret Service agent Richie Chance exhibits reckless behavior which according to his longtime and now former partner Jimmy Hart will probably land him in the morgue before he's ready to retire. That need for the thrill manifests itself in his personal life by his love of base jumping. Professionally, it is demonstrated by the fact that he is sextorting a parolee named Ruth Lanier, who feeds him information in return for him not sending her back to prison for some trumped up parole violation. With his new partner John Vukovich, Chance is more determined than ever, based on recent circumstances, to nab known longtime counterfeiter Ric Masters, who is more than willing to use violence against and kill anyone who crosses him. Masters is well aware that the Secret Service is after him. Masters' operation is somewhat outwardly in disarray, with Chance being able to nab his mule, Carl Cody, in the course of moving some of the fake money, ... Written by
Ruth tells Chance that Lin is coming in on Amtrak train number 11, which is the correct train number for the train coming from San Francisco (the Coast Starlight). When Lin arrives at L.A. Union Station and is paged, he is paged as arriving on Amtrak train number 708. See more »
Despite a confusing (or irrelevant?) opening segment, To Live and Die in L.A. is an authentic and somewhat disturbing crime film. In fact, some of the film is so harrowing and caustic it evokes almost horror-like inspiration. As you might have heard by now, it involves one of the finest car chase scenes ever put to film.
The film follows a couple of Secret Service agents for the National Treasury as they try to track down a counterfeiter. As the movie rolls on, it becomes clear that these agents are pretty shady in the way they gleam information and that the ties between crime and justice are actually quite close. I know, it sounds like an obvious plot, but the editing, pacing, characters and twists are all pretty unexpected or original. It is not nearly as cliché as it sounds.
The downsides to the movie could be some of the aesthetic choices: the neon colors are sweet (I think) but some of the soundtrack is just too grating. You REALLY feel like you're hopped up on speed after hearing the main theme for too long. It's done by Wang Chung, but I think Tangerine Dream would've created something much more provocative. Oh well. Also, I felt like one or two characters' stories were not really concluded properly. There was a minor hang-nail or two left at the end.
But all in all, this is a solid film. Very inspired, very dark, simultaneously exciting and depressing. Seriously, this movie is way more intensely real than anything Tarantino has tried to do. It may not actually be more violent per say, but the violence itself it much more effective and the social ties are far more believable. This junk is scary.
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