L.A. Confidential follows three cops in L.A. as they attempt to crack a murder case that is more than it seems.
The three main characters, excellently played by Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, and Guy Pearce, are also well written. Yes, their characters are generally built around one major character trait, but they still manage to branch out from just that. The characters all have motivations that are laid out in expository fashion, but said exposition isn't so drawn out that it derails the film's momentum. It's quick, and it works to flesh out the characters. Not only that, but the characters go through arcs. They get over things, move on from ideas they once indulged, act out rashly like people do. They're flawed in more ways that just being dirty cops, and I think that's one of the best selling points about them and the movie as a whole.
I'm a sucker for a good crime story, no matter whose side it takes. Here, L.A. Confidential manages to forge a complex, yet largely easy to follow story. Sure, I got confused with some of the names and such, but the dirty cop formula is one that is often easier to follow than police politics. The movie mixes both, and it actually works. The crime itself is engaging to see as the detectives find more clues and discover more along with the audience. It's a lot of fun, and often creates some stellar tension.
If I have but one real issue with the movie, it's how forgettable it is. With poster art as bad as it has, it's no wonder I never paid attention to it until I saw the ratings. It's not a movie that would jump to my mind when someone brings up great movies, or even crime movies for that matter. Maybe later into the conversation I'd start raving about how good it was, but it'd take a bit to get there.
Overall L.A. Confidential is a really solid crime drama with great characters and writing. Sure it's pretty forgettable, and I probably won't see it again for quite some time, but it's a solid watch for sure, and in the end I'd definitely recommend it.