Monday 9 June 2014

Q & A [1990]

Q & A, which along with Serpico and Prince of the City formed a trilogy on New York police corruption, and based on real events, ranks among Lumet’s most underrated works. Though not bereft of flaws, this provided a tense and gripping account of how racial hatred and bigotry have permeated within the force, and the easy acceptance of violence and realpolitik. The film begins with veteran cop Lt. Mike Brennan (Nick Nolte) eliminating a small-time crook in cold blood and then makes it look like self-defense. ADA Al Reilly (Timothy Hutton), a rookie lawyer and former cop, is assigned this seemingly open-and-shut case as Brennan is considered a hero within the department. Al, however, is not the kind of person to take things on face value, and the more he digs into the case and its murky details, the greater the stink it starts generating. Consequently, he ends up having to deal with multiple foes in order to get to the end – the psychotic and dangerous Brennan, a suave Puerto Rican drug dealer (Armand Assante), and the increasingly hostile DA who wanted a quick closure, while he gets assistance from a cynical and honest senior DA official (Lee Richardson). Nolte gave a volcanic turn as the shrewd, nasty, unapologetically racist and thoroughly unpredictable Brennan; the sheer vitriol that his character spews on non-whites, transvestites and prostitutes, and his explosive nature, made for disturbing but compelling viewing. Assante and Richardson were also good, while Hutton, as the naïve but upright lawyer, was effective. The time spent on Al’s liaison with his former flame, however, could have been cut short, and the script could have been made tighter – but these were minor blemishes that can be ignored.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Genre: Drama/Crime Drama/Police Drama/Urban Drama
Language: English
Country: US

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