L.A. Confidential Reviews

Top Critic
Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
June 4, 2014
L.A. Confidential is a movie bull's-eye: noir with an attitude, a thriller packing punches. It gives up its evil secrets with a smile.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
June 4, 2014
There are so many things to enjoy here. Director Curtis Hanson... keeps a complex story coherent and absorbing -- if bloody at the end.
Top Critic
Jami Bernard
New York Daily News
June 4, 2014
At the center of the movie are three mismatched cops with separately fueled ambitions, ferociously played by Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce. Their combined charisma almost smashes through the screen.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
June 4, 2014
L.A. Confidential isn't quite up there with Chinatown, but it's the closest thing to come down the Santa Monica Freeway in the last 23 years.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
June 4, 2014
Hanson has made the film noir setting virtually another starring character.
Top Critic
Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel
June 4, 2014
Spicy and boiling-hot, this sensational early-'50s crime drama is a morality play disguised as pulp fiction -- a sprawling saga of corruption and redemption set against a flashy West Coast backdrop.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
June 4, 2014
Hanson delivers something ever rarer in film culture, not a new film noir but an old-fashioned total movie, somehow of a single piece.
Top Critic
John Krewson
AV Club
June 4, 2014
This may be the best movie of the year; it's definitely one of the greatest crime films of all time.
Top Critic
Bob Thomas
Associated Press
June 4, 2014
Hanson's achievement as director cannot be overrated. He moves swiftly from scene to scene, yet he allows the actors space to define their characters. Producers will be adding his name to their most-wanted list.
Top Critic
Paul Tatara
CNN.com
June 4, 2014
The multi-layered plot keeps you riveted for the best possible reason -- you can't start to imagine where the story is leading you, and the fiercely intense payoffs are repeatedly worth the extra concentration.
Top Critic
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
June 4, 2014
This 1950s-era crime drama has it all, and does it all with a casual mastery that Hollywood once owned but had seemingly misplaced or lost.
Top Critic
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
September 7, 2011
With its plot that zigs and zags like knife slashes, its cynicism stoked to the melting point, the movie brings the thrill of corruption crackingly to life.
Full Review | Original Score: A
Top Critic
David Ansen
Newsweek
April 9, 2008
You have to pay close attention to follow the double-crossing intricacies of the plot, but the reward for your work is dark and dirty fun.
Top Critic
April 9, 2008
Stop reading. Put this review on hold until after you've seen L.A. Confidential.
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Variety
April 9, 2008
An irresistible treat with enough narrative twists and memorable characters for a half-dozen films.
Top Critic
Lisa Alspector
Chicago Reader
April 9, 2008
This movie restores genre elements to a level of potency that's disturbing, satisfying, and rare as hell.
Top Critic
Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
April 27, 2007
A parlor game has already begun as to whether the supreme acting revelation in L.A. Confidential is provided by Mr. Crowe, Mr. Spacey or Mr. Pearce.
Top Critic
Tom Charity
Time Out
June 24, 2006
As the emotional nexus, a Veronica Lake lookalike trapped in a web of male desires, Basinger is arguably the pick of a perfect cast. Subtle, shocking, compelling and immensely assured.
Top Critic
Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
April 12, 2002
A rattling good police story and a dark, laughing tone poem to the never-innocent city of illusions.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
May 11, 2001
Against all odds, L.A. Confidential succeeds brilliantly, right down to Jerry Goldsmith's score, which evokes his haunting theme from Chinatown without being haunted by it.
Top Critic
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
February 14, 2001
Its intricate plot is so nihilistic and cold around the heart, its nominal heroes so amoral, so willing to sell out anyone and everyone, that the film is as initially unnerving as it is finally irresistible.
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
January 1, 2000
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Jeff Millar
Houston Chronicle
January 1, 2000
Fun, if you have the stomach for it.
Top Critic
Richard Schickel
TIME Magazine
January 1, 2000
Try to imagine this: a mainstream American movie, rife with violent and often murderous behavior, yet so densely plotted, so richly peopled, that you can't summarize it in a sentence.
Top Critic
Sean Means
Film.com
January 1, 2000
L.A. Confidential walks on the dark side, enticingly daring us to follow.
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
January 1, 2000
L.A. Confidential is immersed in the atmosphere and lore of film noir, but it doesn't seem like a period picture--it believes its noir values and isn't just using them for decoration.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Susan Stark
Detroit News
January 1, 2000
It's a film that has substance and sweep to match its high sense of style.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
January 1, 2000
This is about one of the best crime dramas in years.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Janet Maslin
New York Times
January 1, 2000
Curtis Hanson's resplendently wicked L.A. Confidential is a tough, gorgeous, vastly entertaining throwback to the Hollywood that did things right.
Top Critic
John Hartl
Seattle Times
January 1, 2000
Hanson has directed a number of clever suspense films, but this one puts everything else he's done in the shade. L.A. Confidential is at the same time his most personal movie and Hollywood filmmaking at its best.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Dwight Garner
Salon.com
January 1, 2000
It's the story of good white actors stranded, in the name of noir, in a movie that refuses to kick into gear until it's far too late.
Top Critic
Mike Clark
USA Today
January 1, 2000
Admiration will likely extend for years to come.
| Original Score: 3.5/4