The dominant themes of director Sidney Lumet's distinguished career are in full force in this moral melodrama involving a young district attorney (Andy Garcia) who takes on a career-making case only to uncover his father's... more » possible involvement in pervasive police corruption. Balancing personal ethics and political compromise in a high-wire act of power and its abuse, Lumet relies on dialogue and superb performances (including those by Ron Leibman, Richard Dreyfuss, and Lena Olin) to achieve a devastating impact. The script (based on the novel Tainted Evidence by Robert Daley) is too smart and Lumet's direction too sure-footed to fall back on the black-and-white exploits of conventional criminals and their crimes. The movie's moral framework (like that of Lumet's earlier film Q&A) is more realistic, dealing in the gray areas between right and wrong where misdeeds can arise from the best intentions. At the center of Garcia's dilemma is his father, a seasoned New York cop played so convincingly by Ian Holm that you'd never guess the actor was British. Although it received mixed reviews when released in 1997, Night Falls on Manhattan ranks among Lumet's finest films. --Jeff Shannon« less
Justice does not always follow the strict letter of the law.
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 08/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1997 film is based on a novel by James Daley and directed by Sidney Lumet, who also wrote the screenplay. It's a fast-moving police procedural with constantly shifting questions about the law, political favors and what is really right and wrong. There are quite a few obstacles in the path of righteousness, but in the end I was satisfied with the conclusion, which shows that justice does not always follow the strict letter of the law.Andy Garcia stars as a young assistant district attorney whose father, Ian Holm, is a cop who's been injured in a shootout with a drug dealer, played by Shiek Mamud-Bey. Ron Liebman, the District Attorney, lets Garcia prosecute the case, which seems to be simple. But the defense lawyer, played by Richard Dreyfus, introduces the concept of police corruption. And so, even though the outcome of the case is clear, other issues come into play, especially since the young prosecutor's own father might be involved.The film moved fast, the plot deepening as the story moved along. And it was nice to recognize two actors who later went on to fame in The Sopranos: James Gandolfini is cast a cop and Dominic Chianese, who plays Uncle Junior, is cast as the judge.The story held my interest, the acting good and the ending was satisfactory and believable. You'll enjoy it if you like cop dramas. Recommended."
STRUGGLES OF CONSCIENCE
EriKa | Iceland | 03/26/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It seems like it was Andy Garcia week here on the Icelandic movie channel. Tonight this movie and another night Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead. Night Falls is a solidly good film. Garcia is great as a new attorney who is more seasoned than his fellow public attorneys because he is the son of a lifelong cop and has been a cop himself for many years. He studied law at night and became an attorney the hard way. When a surveillance operation on a drug dealer (on which his father has been working) goes awry, and Garcia's father (played by Ian Holm) is shot, the attorney general asks Garcia to try the case personally. The case is won easily, and Garcia beings a quick celebrity. He runs for election to become attorney general and wins. The subplot is the defence attorney (Richard Dreyfuss) for the drug dealer (who shot Garcia's father) introducing evidence that would potentially expose corruption in the police department. The case involving the stakeout proved that more than one precinct responded to the call for back up. Excessive use of authority and force come into play. People wanted to make sure that the drug dealer was killed in this operation because it became obvious that the drug dealers were paying off certain cops in order to keep them off their backs. Garcia discovers that his father's partner is one of the crooked cops (the crooked partner is played by James Gandolfini of the Sopranos. He always seemed so much like the supporting role actor in roles just like this one, but he seems to have made himself much more indispensable as Tony Soprano). Garcia confronts his father also, but the father claims to have no role in the corruption, although Garcia uncovers that the father forged the warrant for arrest that was used to arrest the drug dealer in the first place. The story is multilayered and shows the complexities that are faced in law enforcement and justice system everyday. Garcia's love interest is Lena Olin, who is an attorney for Richard Dreyfuss's firm. She discovers the forged warrant and could use it to overturn the conviction of the drug dealer but she chooses not to. Little decisions in life that bend the rules are the highlight of this film. Very interesting film well worth watching."
Marcel Morejon | Miami, FL United States | 04/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film was totally overlooked at the Oscars, especially Andy Garcia, (who seems to get overlooked a lot) and the brilliant directing of sydney Lumett. The screenplay in this film is great, and so is the story,(very realistic). I highly recommend this movie as I'm sure anyone would appreciate all the fine performances."
G. Shkodra | Montreal, Canada | 12/27/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie reminds me of "City Hall" for its intensity and somehow for its flaws. Right from the beginning the most distracted movie watcher can anticipate the cops corruption and almost no one is shocked by the later disclosures (except maybe in Casey senior's case). Yet the main character is continuously shocked by what he sees. Despite his character's naiveté, this is certainly one of Garcia's best performances ever; hardly have I seen him do better in other movies, except maybe in "The Godfather" part three. I find it a real shame that Richard Dreyfuss has such a small part here. Overall a typical Sydney Lumet movie, relying as usual on great actor performances, strong and highly dramatic script and effectice camera work."
UES | 04/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So Sidney Lumet can't only direct, he can also write. Night Falls on Manhattan is an utterly riveting legal thriller, but also much, much more. It explores the compromises made in the search for justice, and provides an eye-opening look at our legal system. Andy Garcia, Ian Holm, James Gandolfini, and Richard Dreyfuss make a spectacular cast for this must-see movie. And if you're interested in filmmaking, listen to Lumet's audio commentary, where he clearly lays out what makes him such a terrific director.