Nick Nolte (in full bruiser form) heads up the Hat Squad, a team of LA detectives composedof himself, Chazz Palmiteri, Michael Madsen and Chris Penn. We first see them in actionroughing up a gangster by tossing him down a cliff (hence the joke of the title). Their next caseis the body of a woman, found flattened in the sand, every bone in her body broken. Nolte israttled by the sight of the victim, because she is Jennifer Connelly, with whom he had an affair(kept secret fro… wife Melanie Griffiths). Connelly also had a tryst with General JohnMalkovich, and the investigation takes Nolte into the dangerous territory of government cover-ups and nuclear tests.
The 1950s period is nicely rendered, and Nolte and the gang look like they stepped out ofa James Ellroy novel. Director Lee Tamahori’s effort is less auteurist, however, than hisattention-getting Once Were Warriors, and is closer to the conventional Die AnotherDay. In other words, though the film aspires to be another Chinatown, with its tale ofupper-echelon corruption, it is too ordinary in both resolution and execution to scale thoseheights. For a film to recapture that mood, viewers only had to wait for one more year, for 1997’sLA Confidential.
The 5.1 sound is very solid, but stops short of being thrilling. The music is expansive, thedialogue is perfectly rendered (no distortion here at all), and there is some very nice placementof the surround effects (notably when traffic or cars are involved). The surround aspects aren’tquite as powerful nor as constant as they might be, however.
The picture comes in both 1.33:1 and 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen aspects (on separatesides of the disc). The colours are very rich, with excellent flesh tones, blacks and contrasts (allof which shine in the night sequences, which are neither bleached nor murky). There is very littlegrain, no edge enhancement, and the image is sharp. A handsome-looking film.
Nothing but the theatrical trailer. The menu is basic.
Enjoyable enough for as a period mystery, but the film promises more than it finallydelivers.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer