To Live and Die In LA 1989 *****


William Friedkin was looking for the kind of breakout sensation he had with The French Connection when he made To Live and Die in LA. Strong films like Sorcerer and The Brinks Job had struggled to find an audience, and despite its low-key ferocity, To Live and Die in LA didn’t become the pop culture sensation it could have been. William Peterson and John Pankow are two worldly LA cops who get in way over their heads into police corruption while investigating a counterfeiter, played with his usual deadpan charisma by Willem Dafoe. Friedkin picks a similar pop-art feel to Michael Mann, but the fit is good, with a moody Wang Chung score, an airport foot-pursuit and a stunning ‘against the traffic’ car chase providing the peaks of a twisting, labyrinthine narrative that keeps its edge till the final scene. Photography by Wim Wenders’ camerman Robby Muller.


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