To Live and Die in LA (Special Edition)
Director: William Friedkin
Truly a time-capsule of the 80's here. Not necessarily a bad thing in the hands of Friedkin, who supplies us with another "flawed cop" type of investigation in the vein of The French Connection. But lead William Petersen is no Popye Doyle. Engaging enough, though, if you can stand the Wang Chung soundtrack.
If you can make it through the first 10 minutes of the film, stick around and enjoy the rest. Specifically the somewhat flaccid introduction to our main character Richard Chance, a federal agent trying to track down a big-time counterfeiter in Los Angeles. At least that's what I'm assuming that's what the LA stands for, though I wouldn't be so inclined to deny Louisiana as a location. Except for the scenery of the Golden Gate bridge in the background, I guess that solidly identifies it in that region. Maybe the buildings too, but I'm not that familiar with the LA skyline (and here, again, clarification, in my ignorance of Los Angeles. But then again I haven't spent much time in Louisiana, either, except for that time on the way to Mardis Gras, but I really don't remember staring at skylines much. So yeah, it could go either way with the LA thing, but I'm pretty positive it's the West Coast one.) Politics, moral dilemmas and a car chase are involved. And a few people getting shot, particularly in the head. Damn that Friedkin, he's a morbid fuck.
Stylish though dated, it calls to mind Michael Mann's earlier works (Miami Vice, I'm looking at you), with just enough substance to make it worthwhile. Despite the initial motivation for Chance to get involved being a bit cliche, the rest of the story gives you enough variation and mild misdirection to make it a decent dramatic thriller. And while it doesn't turn out quite like expected, the last scene is a bit hard to swallow. Oh well. Some good supporting roles by a fairly young-looking Willem Defoe, John Turturro and Dean Stockwell.
Great Scene: Pretty decent car chase, involving more than a car and a train.
DVD Notes: Don't know what exactly makes this edition "Special," but it does include commentary by Friedkin which doesn't exactly follow along with the movie persay, but informative nonetheless, especially about the troubles they had with actually printing up some counterfeit money. Also is a "deleted scene" that was shot off of video. It makes the last scene a little easier to accept, but not really. Alternate ending that borders on camp, and a nice collection of B&W stills from the production. Nice disc overall.