One one hand, L.A. Confidential feels derivative and lacks an obvious place in the L.A. noir canon. It doesn’t have the dialogue of The Big Sleep, the existentialism of Chinatown, the nastiness of Kiss Me Deadly, the atmosphere of The Long Goodbye, the fearlessness of Mulholland Drive, or the devastating ending of In a Lonely Place.
Yet there’s something respectfully workman-like about Curtis Hanson’s filmmaking here. That sounds like a back-handed compliment, but I like this movie. It knows what it is and does it well. The acting is great, the plot holds together, and it’s got some thrilling sequences. Although it drags once the audience knows more than the characters do and the ending pulls back from the "Forget it, Jake" conclusion it needs.