User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 252 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 0 out of 252
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  1. Sep 19, 2013
    8
    L.A. Confidential is a well-made drama that may get a little dry and stale at parts, but immediately picks up the action again and delivers an Oscar-worthy scene that keeps you engaged, so you decide to watch it until the end.
  2. Jan 7, 2015
    5
    Maybe its just me but nearly every single character in the movie came across as a phony. L.A Confidential is nothing more than a standard cop show you see every day on T.V.
  3. Dec 26, 2011
    9
    "L.A Confidential" is not JUST a gangster movie. It's one that's cheerfully paced yet cynically written, where the three main characters compete against each other with beautiful state-of-art cinematography.
  4. Nov 8, 2012
    9
    L.A. Confidential is a startling, beautiful police drama that is flawless except for one aspect. Its characters escape tragedy far too often and easily, but that is a small flaw, and it is overshadowed by the power of the performances the actors give.
  5. Feb 22, 2013
    9
    This film is the true definition of a blockbuster, that met and exceeded every expectation. L.A. Confidential is loaded with star power and filmed in a style of films thirty years it's senior. Based on a true story, Three L.A. Detectives, with different reputations and personalities, team up to solve a brutal murder that involves one of their own. The film is loaded with twists and turnsThis film is the true definition of a blockbuster, that met and exceeded every expectation. L.A. Confidential is loaded with star power and filmed in a style of films thirty years it's senior. Based on a true story, Three L.A. Detectives, with different reputations and personalities, team up to solve a brutal murder that involves one of their own. The film is loaded with twists and turns that will lead you down many different paths and thanks to the quality of the acting, it's all believable. Just how good was this movie? In 1998, it received NINE Academy nominations, one of the highest number of nominations ever. L.A. Confidential also put Russell Crowe on the map. This film is an extremely exciting 'who done it' mystery that will leave you on the edge of your seat and begging for more. The story is top notch, the acting is just about as good as it gets, and you will be hard pressed to find a better mystery. I can't possibly recommend this film enough! Expand
  6. Jan 10, 2014
    10
    Awesome film. Great acting, directing, and wow, I was left guessing all the way until the end. Not many flaws I can think of and certainly worthy of all the praise it has received. Brilliant.
  7. Jun 21, 2014
    10
    One of the greatest crime thrillers, 'L.A. Confidential' is a flawless film with the direction, acting, cinematography, and script to support it. It defeats 'Titanic' numerous times over, and it never gets tiresome. This should have swept the Oscars, unfortunately 'Titanic' was sad enough for people to love it.
  8. Oct 29, 2011
    9
    L.A. Confidential perfectly captures the dark and dirty world of a 1950s pulp-noir. The film, as is often the case with noir, is all about contrast - whether it's the contrast between sun-kissed villas and dingy slum interiors, or the contrast between a cop following the law to the letter and another bending the rules to get the job done, or even the contrast between steamy romance andL.A. Confidential perfectly captures the dark and dirty world of a 1950s pulp-noir. The film, as is often the case with noir, is all about contrast - whether it's the contrast between sun-kissed villas and dingy slum interiors, or the contrast between a cop following the law to the letter and another bending the rules to get the job done, or even the contrast between steamy romance and brutal violence. The various plot-lines that run parallel to each other feel episodic, but all are engaging and build to an immensely satisfying conclusion.The performances across the board are strong,but of particular note are Guy Pearce's by-the-book lead protagonist, Kevin Spacey's celebrity super-cop and James Cromwell's formidable police chief - they cast make the already excellent script shine. You have all the usual noir hallmarks - the femme-fatale (Basinger), the quick-talking, smart-ass reporter (DeVito), dirty criminals and even dirtier cops, yet L.A. Confidential still manages to be creative. For instance, few films that I can think of put such a focus on the public face of a police force - the maintenance of a media machine that is required to keep the authorities looking like the good guys. The film is nigh-on flawless, and a joy to watch. Expand
  9. Oct 30, 2011
    10
    L.A. Confidential may be one of the few book adaptations that holds up (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo does too) and despite its very loose adaptation it is flawlessly executed with standout performances from the likes of Kevin Spacey and James Cromwell. However the film really belongs to Guy Pearce's Ed Exley who is the by the book character everyone loves to hate. This may be anL.A. Confidential may be one of the few book adaptations that holds up (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo does too) and despite its very loose adaptation it is flawlessly executed with standout performances from the likes of Kevin Spacey and James Cromwell. However the film really belongs to Guy Pearce's Ed Exley who is the by the book character everyone loves to hate. This may be an oversimplification on my part but his performance is flawless, invoking all the emotions, especially as he reminisces about the death of his father in a gripping scene between him and Spacey's Jack Vincennes (whose answer to why he became a cop is brilliant). At its best LA Confidential is a film of two halves but each episode is cleverly put together with each character shining. The film embraces the period, including the obsession with noir and pulp to great effect with Kim Basinger bringing to life the role of the Femme Fatale as she effortlessly manipulates those she sees while also showing her vulnerable side during her scenes with Russell Crowe's Bud White (A career highlight). The story follows the brutal murders of the staff and customers of a late night coffee shop called the Nite Owl. However a plot that starts out simple frays off into multiple sub plots that are equally intriguing and cleverly put together providing one of the most intelligent look at the inner workings of a police station and the people we trust to solve our crime (The game L.A. Noire tries to do the same but falls flat). The film is a exhilarating tale of corruption, murder, sex and general wrong-doing that shows that there is no black and white, only shades of grey. Its everything a perfect noir should be and more. A timeless classic. Expand
  10. Aug 26, 2012
    7
    The best thing about this film is the plot. But because it's just a film adaption of James Ellroy's novel I won't give bonus points for that. A bit too slow sometimes but they've got a good cast and a nice 50's feeling. Story is still the best, however.
  11. chw
    Sep 20, 2014
    9
    L.A. Confidential was an awesome movie. Slow, but picks up quick like it does for Pulp Fiction, and ends up turning into the second Godfather or Goodfellas or something.
  12. Mar 10, 2013
    7
    Not as good as I expected. I had a fairly good time though. Kevin Spacey as always nailed it. The others did good too, especially Basinger. Crowe's character provided some amusing scenes. The characters were better done than the plot.
  13. Sep 20, 2013
    8
    Great detective-like storyline with some twists. Perfect cast and well-written characters. Atmosphere similar to recent "Gangster Squad" and video game "LA Noire", so if you liked one of those, you must watch this!
  14. Mar 10, 2013
    9
    Strongly written and acted, this film is an instant classic.
  15. May 9, 2015
    9
    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. These are just some of the elements that make Curtis Hanson's L.A. Confidential one of the most exhilarating noir thrillers to reach the screen in recent memory. With a script that pays homage to the films of the '40s and '50sCrooked cops. The mystery and allure of Hollywood in the '50s. Death, double-crossing, and secret alliances. Paparazzi waiting to get that one breakthrough picture. These are just some of the elements that make Curtis Hanson's L.A. Confidential one of the most exhilarating noir thrillers to reach the screen in recent memory. With a script that pays homage to the films of the '40s and '50s and may remind some viewers of the likes of Chinatown, L.A. Confidential proves that every period piece thriller doesn't have to go the way of Mulholland Falls.

    It's 1953, and the City of Angels is in the grip of an unprecedented wave of violence. Cops on the take turn their backs on crimes. The jailing of a major mob boss leaves a vacuum of power that leads to a turf war. Then comes the Night Owl Massacre, where six victims (including an ex-cop) are brutally gunned down at the Night Owl Café. The police begin routine investigations, but it quickly becomes apparent that this is no ordinary multiple homicide.

    The difference between L.A. Confidential and numerous other, more routine films of the genre begins with the script. Smart, insightful, and consistently engaging, Hanson and Brian Helgeland's faithful adaptation of James Ellroy's novel is a real treat for anyone who views film as a medium for both art and entertainment. The movie is filled with small twists and turns, but not so many that the plot becomes difficult to swallow or to follow. The subplots - and there are several - are as well-developed as the main story, and the supporting characters are presented as more than mere colorful misfits decorating the background.

    Atmosphere is another of L.A. Confidential's strengths. This is Technicolor noir - a film made in color that has black-and-white sensibilities. Like Devil in a Blue Dress, this movie proves that multi- hued film stock does not automatically hamstring such a production. And, while the Los Angeles of L.A. Confidential may not accurately reflect the real city during the '50s, it nevertheless represents what we expect Hollywood to have been like, from the glitzy buildings to the cool-but-beautiful femme fatales and the sure-handed, silent men.

    The three leads give strong performances. Spacey's Jack is cocky and confident, Crowe's Bud is brimming with tightly-controlled anger, and Pearce's Ed is caught between his towering ambition and his desire to do the right thing. It's interesting to note that two of the three main actors in this distinctly American tale are Australian. Despite having appeared opposite Denzel Washington in Virtuosity, Crowe is best known for roles in the likes of Proof and Romper Stomper. Pearce's big break came when he cross-dressed in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It's worth noting that both actors have perfected their American accents to the point where it's virtually impossible to detect a down under twang. Meanwhile, the supporting performers include James Cromwell as the chief of police, Kim Basinger as the woman torn between Ed and Bud, and David Strathairn as a high-class pimp.

    It takes L.A. Confidential nearly two and one-half hours to spin its tale, but the time passes remarkably quickly. There's hardly a wasted moment in the entire movie, and director Hanson (whose previous credits include The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and The River Wild) maintains tight control of every scene. Lately, it seems that film noir has become the province of independent productions. As a result, it's refreshing to see a big-budget, studio effort of this sort that does nearly everything right. L.A. Confidential is likely to be one of the best offerings of the early Autumn.
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  16. Feb 1, 2011
    8
    Although Kim Basinger's performance was good, it was not Oscar worthy. The film, on the other hand was worthy of its nomination. Kudos to the casting director for hitting the "actor to character" spot on. This film holds your attention until the end and leaves you with a feeling that you might have misjudged the characters.
  17. Dec 23, 2013
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. With it's brilliant pacing and neo-noir crime drama elements. L.A.
    Confidential stands one of the best crime films ever made. The
    incredible thing about this movie is acting,seems like every actor is
    living the character they are in. Russel Crowe just stands out as the
    tough cop and a man who hates women beaters,rapers and killers.His
    voice tone through the entire movie helps building his character,the
    other great aspect as anti-political. Kevin Spacey ,what could i say
    ,he is just awesome,his turn as a likable and smart Sgt really gives
    the plot a go-ahead.Especially the scene where with James Crowell. Guy
    Pearce ,just nailed the character of Ed Exley.His transformation from a
    fame-lover and political smart officer to a real justice seeking man is
    very good. Kim Basinger ,she is just beautiful and clever.she doesn't
    look so aged and her charm and acting deserved the academy. Every other
    supporting actor Danny DeVito,James Cromwell and David Strathairn are
    all good. Under Curtis Hanson's brilliant direction and Curtis Hanson
    Brian Helgeland's cleverly adapted screenplay from the novel of same
    name is quite interesting. Overall,this is a thrilling and one of the
    best neo-noir drama film with unexpected and great twists.
    Expand
  18. Mar 16, 2013
    9
    L.A. Confidential is a superb noir classic with a stylish atmosphere that makes L.A. Confidential smoother then jazz. This noir classic is a thrill ride that is one of the greatest films of all time.
  19. RyanM.
    Jun 6, 2001
    10
    Brilliant! A staggering film with a great cast delivering great performances. Curtis Hansen has scored twice with "Wonder Boys" and this piece of art.
  20. MichaelF.
    Aug 7, 2001
    8
    This is a great movie! Its almost flawless except for the ending shoot-out was way too big, it was trying to be a John Woo ending shoot out instead of a crime film shoot out. But all of the acting, writing, directing and music was top notch. This should have been Best Picture!
  21. [Anonymous]
    Apr 18, 2002
    10
    Excellent.
  22. OllieS.
    Aug 5, 2002
    10
    The greatest movie ever made, with a great plot, great sets and scenery, great music, great acting especially from Kevin Spacey, just great movie!
  23. WillieW.
    Aug 15, 2003
    10
    One of the best films I have seen.
  24. KatieP.
    May 27, 2004
    8
    Too long. good if you like this genre.
  25. WesM.
    Jul 17, 2008
    10
    Popcorn flick done right; though regrettably with some of the sentimentality intact.
  26. PaulaW.
    Nov 14, 2001
    5
    The highly overrated L.A. Confidential is more like a Hollywood costume party than a true noir. The busy plot can't conceal the lack of any real tension, and the elaborate sets and costumes belie the pulpy, bare-bones quality of the original noirs. The final shoot-out goes way over the top. A great performance by Kevin Spacey and fine scenery, but not much else.
  27. ButteredPopcorn
    Nov 1, 2002
    6
    Very engaging, especially the Crowe character. Upon 2nd viewing, it didn't hold up so well. Mostly just archetypal characters in a big budget hollywood flic, Slightly more imagination/humor than average, though, make it stand out. Ending did stink.
  28. ScottH.
    Feb 8, 2002
    10
    Tremendous! Movies this good come along once every five years. Complex, dense and engrossing.
  29. SantinoS.
    Sep 18, 2002
    9
    Great plot, great direction and an outstanding cast make this film 1 of the best in recent years and even of the decade. Spacey and basinger were great. Really lost faith in the oscars when that crappy "TITANIC" won best picture instead of this film.
  30. HalW.
    Nov 28, 2003
    10
    Great Film ! Not to be missed, Great storyline and acting by a great cast. Keeps you glued to the screen and delivers a real punch.
  31. Beercan
    Jan 12, 2005
    10
    One of the best films of the 1990's and one of the very few I would allow a score of 10. This bleak, blackly humourous neo-noir may not be everyone's cup of tea (especially the dim-witted and easily distracted) but if you're willing to give yourself over to its hero-less, serpentine world, the rewards are stunning if you stick with it. The acting, writing, and directing are One of the best films of the 1990's and one of the very few I would allow a score of 10. This bleak, blackly humourous neo-noir may not be everyone's cup of tea (especially the dim-witted and easily distracted) but if you're willing to give yourself over to its hero-less, serpentine world, the rewards are stunning if you stick with it. The acting, writing, and directing are unimpeachable on all levels, and the movie is exceptionally crafted, with several awesome plot twists and developments. A near-classic. Years after the fact, it still stings that Titanic won Best Picture over this. It's an incredible achievement, not to be missed. Expand
  32. JaredC
    Nov 23, 2008
    10
    I go look on other film databases, especially IMDb, L.A Confidential is underrated. It kind of reminded me of Pulp Fiction because of its billboard, but really, this is better than Tarantino's piece. Pulp Fiction was an amazing movie, the third greatest movie of the decade, but LA is the second best because of how well Guy Hamilton portrays the story. And obviously Goodfellas is in I go look on other film databases, especially IMDb, L.A Confidential is underrated. It kind of reminded me of Pulp Fiction because of its billboard, but really, this is better than Tarantino's piece. Pulp Fiction was an amazing movie, the third greatest movie of the decade, but LA is the second best because of how well Guy Hamilton portrays the story. And obviously Goodfellas is in first, this crime epic is must see. Expand
  33. HeleneS.
    Jul 19, 2009
    10
    Best plot, best acting, especially Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey.
  34. Gilbert
    Nov 13, 2002
    10
    The last good movie Danny DeVito ever made. And actually, I thought it got BETTER with every viewing. Watch it at Christmas for best effect. Best movie ever? "Top ten, anyway."
  35. PatC.
    Dec 1, 2003
    8
    It's OK. Nice job by Basinger - she's a cutie and keeps things interesting until the plot is developed enough to follow. However, the movie coveys the impression that L.A. has a corrupt soul when in fact it has no soul at all. This is not a movie for the ages, but should be required viewing for crime film buffs and L.A. mythology mavens.
  36. YoonMinC.
    Sep 26, 2003
    5
    Fine directing, acting, writing, cinematography, and whatever else. However, unlike Chinatown, this is noir encased behind thick glass-plate window and luxuriously lit for museum purposes. It's noir as a mummy exhibition. No matter how gold varnished the coffin the thing inside is dead.
  37. WesselK.
    Oct 29, 2007
    9
    Not alot of movies deserve a 10. Chinatown (this movie is compared to LA several times) does.It doesn't have the same mood and technical/directing brilliance that Chinatown has, but it comes very close..The book by Ellroy is brilliant very suitable for moviescripting. Now please make a movie of his magnum opus: the cold six thousand!! And can't give a bigger complement to the Not alot of movies deserve a 10. Chinatown (this movie is compared to LA several times) does.It doesn't have the same mood and technical/directing brilliance that Chinatown has, but it comes very close..The book by Ellroy is brilliant very suitable for moviescripting. Now please make a movie of his magnum opus: the cold six thousand!! And can't give a bigger complement to the director... you're the man for the job. Expand
  38. Mar 9, 2011
    10
    A masterpiece, combining a complex storyline with an amazing cast. A must see for all movie fans. The twist at the end will definetly make you want to watch it again to see what you missed. Remains one of my favorite films.
  39. Jul 6, 2012
    9
    This is the best movie all the time! I don't kidding. I saw this movie about ten times and I always enjoy it. If you don't see it, you must watch it! I hope you like too.
Metascore
90

Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. A movie bull's-eye: noir with an attitude, a thriller packing punches. It gives up its evil secrets with a smile.
  2. A juicy noir stew of amorality that's the best thing since "Chinatown."
  3. Reviewed by: Janet Maslin
    100
    A tough, gorgeous, vastly entertaining throwback to the Hollywood that did things right. As such, it enthusiastically breaks most rules of studio filmmaking today.