“To Live and Die in L.A.” Review

19 January, 2017

Year of Release: 1985
Director: William Friedkin
Screenwriters: William Friedkin, Gerald Petievich
Director of Photography: Robby Muller
Cast: William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Turturro

Synopsis: A reckless Secret Service agent still reeling from the death of his long-term partner goes on a hunt for the fraudster who killed his co-worker in cold blood.


To Live and Die in LA Review:

For a crime film that’s essentially just “The French Connection” with counterfeiting instead of drug smuggling, William Friedkin does a remarkable job of reshaping “To Live and Die in L.A.” to fit with the time of its release. While this particular interpretation of the story wouldn’t exist without the raw and candid sensibility of the 1970s, it comes to life through the heel-tapping groove of the 1980s; a skippy thriller with a killer soundtrack.

Like all of Friedkin’s most notable adaptations, “To Live and Die in L.A.” is murky and elliptical in its storytelling, idolising an unethical protagonist who fights dirty, experiencing the thrill of a life of crime while always hiding behind the badge of a lawman. Often no better than a hard-nosed gangster with a vengeful attitude, Richard Chance is the kind of guy who opens a briefcase with a concrete block and his badassery extends beyond his code of honour as he ‘services’ lady friends for tip-offs and jumps over security barriers before dragging perps into custody.

It often feels like Friedkin’s trigger happy protagonists are mere excuses for an epic chase sequence and “To Live and Die in L.A.” sees a practically operatic achievement with its nail-biting Sixth Street car dash. It’s a bold arrangement in an even bolder movie about honour, morality and the blurring of boundaries within the secret service, a scene showcasing the extent that Chance is willing to go to capture his enemy. In this sense, the movie presents its agents like members of an organised crime family as the baton is passed from partner to partner with a sense of true allegiance.

 

   

Summary
Review Date
Movie
To Live and Die in LA
Rating
41star1star1star1stargray

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