To Live and Die in L.A. [1985]

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow, Debra Feuer, John Turturro
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 116 minutes

William Friedkin briefly revived his faltering career with this sleek, bleak thriller of a pair of secret service agents on the trail of a counterfeiter. William L. Peterson is the hotshot protégé of a career agent killed by the ruthless, almost feral counterfeiting genius Willem Dafoe (Platoon). Now Petersen, teamed with the smart but still green John Pankow (TV's Mad About You), is ready to twist arms, lean on criminals, steal, and even murder to exact his revenge. The harrowing chase through the streets of Los Angeles that climaxes on the freeway at rush hour, where Friedkin's brilliant twist sends them heading the wrong way, careening through a sea of cars coming straight at them, is still one of the most breathtaking car chases ever filmed. Friedkin's edgy crime thriller, stylishly shot in steely blues against hazy red and orange skies by Robby Muller (Paris, Texas), paints a very thin line between the good guys and the bad guys, and Wang Chung's techno soundtrack sets the proper mood--jumpy and alienated. It's a cynical and very brutal look into the world of law enforcement (adapted by Friedkin and former Secret Service man Gerald Petievich from his novel) and a cold portrayal of the power games between cops and feds, and cops and informants. John Turturro, Dean Stockwell, and Robert Downey Sr. are featured in supporting roles. --Sean Axmaker

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