To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

William Friedkin's crime thriller, based on a book by U.S. Secret Service agent Gerald Petievich, concerns an arrogant Secret Service official who wants to get his man at any price. Willem Dafoe plays Eric Masters, an ultra-smooth counterfeiter who has managed to sidestep the police for years. He is so up-front about his dealings, in fact, that when some undercover agents try to make a deal with him at his health club, Eric tells them, "I've been coming to this gym three times a week for five years. I'm an easy guy to find. People know they can trust me." But when young and eager Secret Service agent Richard Chance (William L. Petersen) finds out that his partner has been cold-bloodedly murdered by Eric, he trains his relentlessness upon capturing Eric -- whether it means robbery, murder, or exploiting his friends and associates. As Chance erases the dividing line between good and evil, he drags his new partner John Vukovich (John Pankow) and Ruth Lanier (Darlanne Fluegel), an ex-con, down into the maelstrom with him.

Cast

William L. Petersen
as Richard Chance
Willem Dafoe
as Eric Masters
John Pankow
as Vukovich
Valentin de Vargas
as Judge Filo Cedillo
Val DeVargas
as Judge Filo Cedillo
Michael Chong
as Thomas Ling
Jackelyn Giroux
as Claudia Leith
Michael Zand
as Terrorist
Bobby Bass
as FBI Agent
Dar Robinson
as FBI Agent
Katherine M. Louie
as Ticket Agent
Edward Harrell
as Airport Guard
Gilbert Espinoza
as Utro's bartender
Jack Cota
as Agent
Shirley J. White
as Airline Passenger
Gerald H. Brownlee
as Visiting Room Guard
David M. DuFriend
as Tower Guard
Ruben Garcia
as Inmate Guard
Joe Duran
as Prison Guard
Bufort L. McClerkins Jr.
as prison assailant
Gregg G. Dandridge
as Prison Assailant
Donny Williams
as Rice's Friend
Earnest Hart Jr.
as Rice's Friend
Thomas F. Duffy
as 2nd Suspect
Gerald Petievich
as Special Agent
Mark Gash
as Himself
Pat McGroarty
as Criminal
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for To Live and Die in L.A.

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (4)

Engrossing and diverting enough on a moment-to-moment basis but is overtooled.

Full Review… | October 29, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

Friedkin plays it as brutal and cynical as he ever did with The French Connection...

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

On its own terms, it's a considerable success, though it's a film that sacrifices everything in the interests of style.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

The film isn't just about cops and robbers, but about two systems of doing business, and how one of the systems finds a way to change itself in order to defeat the other.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

The film is cheesy as hell but it is a ton of fun for someone who remembered how this passed as uber-edgy back in the day.

Full Review… | July 31, 2012
7M Pictures

The action thrives on overkill.

Full Review… | March 25, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for To Live and Die in L.A.

½

An explosive thriller very well directed by William Friedkin, with great performances, many awesome action scenes - especially an exhilarating car chase - and a morally thought-provoking story that culminates in a fantastic, shocking ending.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

'To Live and Die in L.A.' is ultimately something of a snorefest; watch this with even a grain of lethargy and you'll be lost. And that's a shame, because there is much artistic merit to be found in the film. The killer Wang Chung soundtrack compliments stylish sequences throughout, and is especially effective when capturing the Los Angeles landscape. The opening montage is very striking both visually and aurally; the sequence showing Master's counterfeiting procedure is also a pleasure to watch. Sadly though, the first twenty minutes and the closing credits of the film are the most interesting and engaging. Even its stylistic flair becomes tired, Wang Chung being overused and placed in sequences that just don't require it. To Live and Die in L.A. could've been far tauter; it rouses you from your catatonic state only a few times with its surprising gore and of course that famous lengthy car chase. The premise is simply Richard Chance's (William L. Peterson) relentless pursuit of a murderous counterfeiter named Eric Masters (Willem Dafoe) who has killed Chance's partner and 'best friend for seven years'. Chance, his safety hindered in the haze of his own hubris, is prepared to do whatever it takes to put an end to masters, even if it means breaking the law he enforces. Peterson's anti-hero isn't without his clichés: when presented with new partner John Vukovich (John Pankow), the film indulges in the common 'You know I work alone' cliché. In its entirety, To Live and Die in L.A. is a superficial, viewer-unfriendly production that just doesn't engage it's audience; the characters are flat and the plot is bloated and hard to follow. Its aesthetic redeeming features are seldom found over the course of 1hr 56 minutes, and even if there were more, it wouldn't save this film from its unsubstantiated characters and narrative.

Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

½

I don't throw around the term neo-noir lightly, but this film has the body of your average 80's cop thriller, with the heart and soul of a noir. William Petersen is good here as the hard-boiled and morally ambivalent detective Chance. As for Friedkin, whether he wants to admit it or not, is not a God. But he does know how to craft a compelling film. Although this is not as captivating as the French Connection or the Exorcist, the action scenes are still very impressive and shot with vigor. He takes chances that really elevate the material in a lot of ways. The story is a bit messy and the film is steeped in the 80's aesthetic which unfortunately does not age well. However, it is much better than you would expect of your average thriller.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

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