When his longtime partner on the force is killed, reckless U.S. Secret Service agent Richard Chance (William L. Petersen) vows revenge, setting out to nab dangerous counterfeit artist Eric Masters (Willem Dafoe). Along with his new, straitlaced partner, John Vukovich (John Pankow), Chance sets up a scheme to entrap Masters, resulting in the accidental death of an undercover officer. As Chance's desire for justice becomes an obsession, Vukovich questions the lawless methods he employs...
"The film isn't just about cops and robbers, but about two systems of doing business, and how one of the systems finds a way to change itself in order to defeat the other...." Roger Ebert
" Friedkin plays it as brutal and cynical as he ever did with The French Connection..." Time Out
"To Live and Die in L.A. was released more than a decade after William Friedkin's most famous films, but it is every bit an exercise in expertise, shock, and awe...." Den of Geek
There’s an amazing power that films made by truly exceptional directors can wield. They can seem to contradict themselves as they go along, only to coalesce into something so much more than it initially appears. What appears to be two diametrically opposed ideas and executions can completely fit together, you just have to be incredibly smart about it.
To Live and Die in L.A. is one of those films. It begins as a film that appears to be the product of neural-network attempting to generate a 1980s cop vs. criminal film. You want drugs? You want counterfeit money schemes? You want buckets of neon lighting? You want a hotshot lead of the law? You want a psychopath criminal nemesis? You want a cutaway to an ill-defined dance group that might be an art piece? You want a soundtrack entirely composed by Wang Chung? And lastly, do you want one of the greatest car chases in movie history?
To Live and Die in L.A. provides all of those thrills and the piles of sleaze that come with all of it, except there’s something running underneath the surface of the entire film, a cruel layer of reality. These characters may think they exist in a world where they can be invincible avatars driven by their desires, but the blunt end of shotguns have a way of reminding you that these are human beings, and they are terribly mortal. Which means that despite their attempts to exist in the fast lane, you’re left with a horrible question:
If these people exist in a real world, how much horror do they leave in their wake?..." Jacob Writes Forever