Slow moving and directionless noir thriller. Nick Nolte is Detective Max Hoover, head of the
Hat Squad (a fact based group of LA detectives formed in the '50s to fight organized crime).
When the Squad (also including Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, and Chris Penn) begin
to investigate the unusual murder of a mysterious woman (Jennifer Connelly), they uncover
secrets some people would prefer left uncovered (notably the head of the Atomic Energy
Commission, played by John Malkovich). To complicate matters, Hoover recently had an
affair with the woman...a secret he's managed to keep from his devoted wife (Melanie Griffith).
Unfortunately, Nolte does a bungled job of acting. His blank expressionless face never
reveals his true feelings toward either his lover or his wife. But at least Hoover is better
developed than his compatriots. Only Chazz Palminteri is gifted with the slightest of
character quirks (he visits a shrink). Poor Madsen and Penn are virtually extras in hats.
The story, for all its noirish content, is surprisingly free of pesky plot twists. From the
outset, the film is completely straightforward, with little doubt as to who the bad guys
are. With no strong characters, and a plot that leaves little to ponder, you would at least
hope for some good action sequences. What a surprise, zero for three. About the only
thing worth seeing in this film is the cinematography, which captures some good shots
in noir fashion...but, they only serve to remind how good this film should have been.
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