This is one of the few films that demands a re-viewing. The acting is top notch, Spacey, Crowe, Pierce, and Bassinger are all excellent. Kevin spacey's portrayal of Jack Vincennes, a Hollywood cop, is performed expertly, as is Pierce's role as Ed Exley. Each of the three main characters grow and change, and in the end, we don't know who to feel sorry for. Few movies can pull this off with this many central characters. LA Confidential pulls it off without losing speed. However it would be easy to say that Bassinger and Crowe steal the show. Crowe's skilled juxtaposition of strength, anger, and frailty is definitely his defining role.
The plot is thick, twisting, and engrossing, although at times it gets just a little too tangled. The screenplay, as expected, is also top notch.
For those that crave action, there's plenty of it, including a riveting final gunfight. Musically and visually, the film puts you in Hollywood LA in the 1950s, the total immersion in a glamorous but corrupt city is spectacular.
Unlike many adaptations of books, LA Confidential stands on its own as one of the most compelling and well made movies of the past decade. A must see for anyone; definitely one of the clearest and most poignant examples of why movies have managed to capture the minds of viewers for the last century.