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|Index||30 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The theme of corruption is examined in almost every Sydney Lumet film. He is fascinated by power and the use and misuse of it. The cast of this character-driven film is played to perfection by Andy Garcia, James Gandolfini, Lena Olin, Shiek Mahmud-Bey, Ian Holm, Ron Leibman, Richard Dreyfuss, Sam Vigoda and Paul Guilfoyle. They are all in the same gut-wrenching movie about the prosecutors who do not operate in a black-and-white world, rather in one of shades of gray. There are two especially touching relationships. One is between a father and son, the other is the love story between Andy Garcia and Lena Olin that survives this very tense and complex situation in a film about an important subject. I recommend it.
The plot was predictable; what was VERY good is the realistic sour compromises that atty's make. that alone warrants this movie as MUST SEE for students. I went to St.Johns University (undergraduate legal education), as did Sean Casey (AndyGarcia) No punches were pulled there, and that was reflected in the protagonist effort to make ethical decisions. There was one line that summarizes so much: "...if you want clean hands, become a priest. The degree to which police, criminal attys, DA's and all parties with knowledge about a criminal action get ugly is very true. This hopefully will take the hot air out of many law students, puffed up with him or herself. Well done and accurate, even if predictable. The DEVIL is in the movie detail.
In "Night Falls on Manhattan", Garcia plays a rookie NYC District Attorney who finds himself struggling to cope with moral dilemmas and compromised principles in the "real world" of lawyering. Offering a solid cast with good performances, this Hollywood tinged film builds quickly and maintains momentum while digging into fundamental issues which bedevil characters from cops to judges in their personal and professional lives. Worth a look for anyone into dramas, especially those dealing with questions of ethics. (B)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Night Falls On Manhattan" is a fascinating movie about police
corruption, political rivalries and personal loyalties and the ways in
which they affect the workings of the justice system in New York City.
The point that this drama makes most powerfully, however, is that in
order to achieve anything within the system, compromises, deals and
trade-offs have to be made and that inevitably,cherished principles and
moral absolutes often have to be abandoned in the process. The
experiences of a young and rather naive Assistant D.A. are skilfully
used to illustrate some of the ethical dilemmas that have to be
confronted as he learns how to survive in his chosen profession.
Two New York detectives on a stakeout are given a tip by an informant that a drug dealer that they're interested in, is currently in the building that they're watching. Detective Liam Casey (Ian Holm) promptly rushes into the building to make an arrest and his partner, Detective Joey Allegretto (James Gandolfini) follows a little later after having called for back up. Officers from three precincts respond to the call for assistance but the operation ends disastrously as Casey is shot and critically injured, three other officers are killed and the drug dealer, Jordan Washington (Shiek Mahmud-Bey), embarrassingly manages to escape in an NYPD squad car.
Washington, under the supervision of his lawyer, Sam Vigoda (Richard Dreyfuss) turns himself in to the police and New York D.A. Morgenstern (Ron Leibman) swiftly appoints one of his most junior assistants, Sean Casey (Andy Garcia) to prosecute the case. Casey is very inexperienced but Morgenstern calculates that it will play well with the media if the wounded detective's son is involved in the high profile trial. This appointment also neatly avoids Morgenstern having to give the case (and any potential kudos that might be gained) to his senior assistant, Elihu Harrison (Colm Feore) who is a fiercely ambitious man who intends to stand for election against him at the next opportunity.
At Washington's trial, Vigoda claims that his client had been paying protection money to the police and when another drug kingpin had offered to pay them more, he refused to get involved in a bidding war. This, he believed, made him a target and as he was convinced that the corrupt police were out to kill him, Washington had simply acted in self-defence during the raid on his apartment. Washington claimed to have been paying money to officers from the same three precincts that were involved in the shootout at his building and also said that one of the corrupt officers was Kurt Kleinhoff. Despite Vigoda's accusations, Sean Casey discredits Wahington so successfully that a guilty verdict and sentencing soon follow.
Casey's victory in court wins him valuable publicity and so when D.A Morgenstern suffers a heart attack and has to stand down from his job, Casey wins the election to be his successor. At this point, things seem to be going perfectly but matters soon take on a different complexion after Kurt Kleinhoff's body and a book containing the names of a number of officers from the same three precincts that were involved in the shootout are found. This triggers an Internal Affairs investigation which brings to light some matters that threaten to unravel the case that brought Casey all his success and point the finger of suspicion at people who are close to him. The ways in which this highly principled man responds to the various improprieties that are unearthed seriously tests his integrity and leads him to recognise the value of pragmatism.
This movie is full of really strong characters that are brought to life very convincingly by its talented cast. Andy Garcia does a good job of conveying the range of emotions that Sean goes through on his journey from being an impractical idealist to achieving the kind of maturity that enables him to navigate his way through some difficult situations. Ron Leibman is terrific as the wonderfully hyperactive Morgenstern who's very adept at manipulating events to suit his own purposes and Richard Dreyfuss also impresses as a defence attorney with a personal agenda. Ian Holm and James Gandolfini are also very good in their supporting roles.
"Night Falls On Manhattan" is a criminally under-appreciated film that's not only thought-provoking, intelligent and realistic but also thoroughly entertaining to watch.
Fascinating story of politics and justice in New York, or anywhere else
for that matter. Most don't realize that on 3% of murder cases ever see
a jury; most are plea bargained. But, there are those, like the one
depicted here, that are essential, not for justice, but for the
political ambitions of the DA and Mayor.
Sidney Lumet (Find Me Guilty, Dog Day Afternoon) likes working with ethical questions, and he did a good job here in presenting a world that is not black and white, but gray.
I generally do not like Andy Garcia (Ocean's Eleven, The Godfather Part III) or Ron Leibman (Zorro, the Gay Blade), but that may be because of their politics off the screen. It affects my judgment. I have to say that they both gave interesting performances that made this film worth watch. But, there were a lot of good stars in this film: Sir Ian Holm (Chariots of First) as Garcia's father, James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) as a corrupt cop and Holm's partner, Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland's Opus, The Goodbye Girl, Jaws) as a liberal lawyer, Colm Feore (Bon Cop, Bad Cop, The Red Violin, Chicago) as an ADA that wants the top job, and Lena Olin (Enemies: A Love Story, Chocolat, "Alias") as the love interest.
Very good acting throughout and a compelling story.
NIGHT FALLS ON MANHATTAN (1997) *** Andy Garcia, Richard Dreyfuss, Ian Holm, Lena Olin, James Gandolfini, Ron Leibman, Shiek Mahmud-Bey. Excellent, gritty and absorbing crime drama dealing with Garcia as an assistant DA who becomes an overnight sensation after tackling a disturbing case of a drug dealer killing three cops on a raid gone awry that leads to a sticky web of corruption, lies, deceit and ultimately personal integrity. Garcia and Holm as his cop father, give superb performances as does Leibman as his teeth gnashing mentor (a delightful to watch turn) and Gandolfini as Holm's partner with some skeletons in his closet. Based on Robert Daley's book `Tainted Evidence' and adapted by the film's director Sidney Lumet with colorful panache of a true helmsman. Letterman stooge Leonard Tepper is an extra in the jury (!)
Sydney Lumet's Night Falls On Manhattan is the kind of morally complex, daring, emotionally charged, all out classic that most films of its type wish they could be. It explores police corruption, double standards and hypocrisy in the justice system so unnervingly that by the end of the film we as an audience don't have a clue where to position ourselves or who to root for. Perhaps this is why it was so overlooked, people just got too scared by the provocative, damaging implications of the subject matter, and chose to gloss over it. Shame. It is one of the most mature films I've ever seen about the tough subjects it tackles, never shying away from the blunt, unsolvable problems that this justice system raises, and never solving the, itself in the film. The truth hurts, as the characters find out. Andy Garcia, an actor I usually don't like too much, is excellent as an idealistic young law grad who suddenly finds himself in the spotlight when the trigger happy hound dog DA (Ron Leibmann in a hilarious, manic, spellbinding performance) chooses him to prosecute a murderous drug kingpin who gunned down several police officers and badly wounded one who happens to be Garcia's father (Ian Holm). The plot doesn't follow any cinematic or genre conventions, but seeks to overturn them, creating a searing, realistic narrative and ruthlessly throwing its characters into situations that no human being should have to endure, but situations that are ultimately of their own flawed design. It's an absolute dynamite and comes up strong in every category. Ian Holm, a British thespian, nails every scene with a lived in, authentically brilliant performance, and breaks your heart with his Everyman desperation and anguished soul. James Gandolfini is reliably awesome as his partner. I have no clue why this film slipped through the cracks, but like I said before, it probably scared people with its unflinching, uncompromising and bitter indictment of our deeply flawed Justice system. Personally, I feel like we need more movies like this, a breath of un-clichéd, truth hurts fresh air filmmaking and a welcome addition into the NY crime drama sub genre.
I liked this film, this is not a great movie but it's a good one, and
the most important thing was that it didn't bore me for a moment.
The performances are good, the plot is interesting and clever. What I didn't like about it was that the shots of the film looked like a movie made for TV.
The plot is about how Sean Casey ,an assistant district attorney working for just six months, improves very fast in his way up at his job but he is going to discover many dirty things about policemen and politics and is at this point where he will have to make difficult decisions that will put in text his principles.
If you like intelligent police or court movies, this one is for you.
This film is definitely based on the Larry Davis incident that took
place in the late 80's where corrupt cops tried to shake down a drug
dealer who wanted out of their "system"(dealers who payed off cops to
rob other dealers). When he got out due to the death of his infant
daughter, they invaded his home, he fought back by killing and wounding
some officers and escaped leading to a dangerous manhunt in NYC. When
they finally caught him (an old family relative snicthced on him),
false accusations were brought up by the police and the media to
portray him as a ruthless thug who ran away after killing the cops when
all he wanted to do was leave the organization involving crooked cops
and drug dealers. He is still serving time in Rikers Island fighting
for a new trial.
Check out the documentary called THE LARRY DAVIS STORY which won an award for Best Documentary in the Urbanworld Film Festival in 2003.
However, it serves well on film and Sidney Lumet is great act capturing the look and feel of NYC in the early 90's. It has a "Prince of the City" feel to it.
I really have no idea what motivates Sidney Lumet's choice of movies to do,
even though I've read his book "Making Movies," which sheds a lot of light
on his decision making process.
If I had to take a guess, I might say that perhaps he wants a variety, and doesn't calculate the risk involved with certain works that have obviously turned out to be major flops. Or maybe he does know the risk and he just doesn't care. Now remember, though I'm sure even the "master" critics have jumped on and trashed some of his better work, if you place something like "Prince of the City" or "Equus" next to "The Wiz," "Running on Empty" and "Serpico" next to "Critical Care," wow! I mean you are just asking for trouble.
Regardless, this guy is a filmmaker.
As with anything, there are people who will dog this and say it was slow and Lapaglia was over the top or whatever the multitude of criticisms may be, "the lighting created an unwanted mood" (by whose standards), "the script had flaws" (oh did it? What were they?) and the list goes on. However without getting into every nook and cranny available, I will just say if you enjoy a good drama, you may enjoy this.
For the decent side of Lumet's work, this is a pretty fair example and on every front, I think it works out okay. Do I have any criticisms? None worth more than "I liked it or didn't." I did in fact like it by the way. It might be considered standard fare or even dated a bit by some and as a result, not as powerful as it might be otherwise, but it is a good example of Sidney Lumet's better filmmaking and not a bad story to boot.
Dig Colm Feore's role here. I like this guy and though he's probably found in the shadows more than in the spotlight, he is one vastly talented actor. I caught him last year in the lead for "My Fair Lady" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada and though he really probably is an acquired taste, he is a talent to be reckoned with for sure. It would be nice to see him garner larger roles since talent like this sure seems wasted on bit parts.
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