Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

A satisfactory thriller with lots of deep psychology. Set in the boonies of Alaska, with a rather nice expert/novice thing going on between the local she-cop and the visiting LA he-cop. Dormer (Al Pacino) and his partner have been imported to help investigate the murder of a teenage girl.

Dormer is a basically good cop, but with a Fuhrman-esque tendency to operate outside the rulebook. He accidentally (or not) kills his partner, who just happens to have been scheduled to testify against him to Internal Affairs. But Dormer needs to pretend Hap was shot by the guy they were chasing. So he lies to the local cops, and who could do it better?

Dormer calls up his wife and tells her about it; his revisionist version, of course. She completely flips and tells Dormer, when he finds whoever killed Hap, “don’t arrest him.” In other words, Dormer is under orders to execute himself. There’s a gun involved, which Dormer hides under the floorboards of his own motel room. This guy has the worst case of jetlag ever!

A whole lot of complicated stuff happens with the gun and various shell casings and a dead dog. A mystery man calls Dormer, and says he saw him kill his partner. There’s a chase scene across a river filled with logs. The mystery man turns out to be Finch, the novelist who actually killed the girl. Finch is Robin Williams, who does very well as an evil, violent character. He wants Dormer to help him frame a teenage boy, in return for which he will keep quiet about what he knows.

When Dormer thinks Finch is putting on airs, he says, “You’re about as mysterious to me as a blocked toilet is to a fuckin’ plumber.” But that’s the irony he doesn’t see. That’s exactly what Finch is saying, that he and Dormer are in the same situation, both accidentally killed somebody, both don’t want to fry for it.

Anyway, by the end, Dormer has been awake for 6 days and nights, which is clever when you consider that in French, dormir is “to sleep”. After an exhausting battle where Finch is finally gotten rid of, Dormer confesses to the idealistic young woman officer that he doesn’t know any more if he killed Hap on purpose, or not. His last noble act, as he dies, is to tell her not to get rid of the evidence of his guilt. “Don’t lose your way,” he says.

If this movie is a realistic portrayal of the law-enforcement mindset, the prognosis is not good. When they go to search the teenage boy’s apartment, Dormer says, “Turn the place over.” The cops are like clumsy bears wrecking a vacation cabin. It’s as if they’re so busy being intentionally destructive, throwing stuff around and making the biggest possible mess, it would be easy to miss something important. But then, why bother? Carefully searching a citizen’s domicile is a drag. It’s so much easier to just trash the place, and “find” the evidence you brought along.

Dormer’s creed, incidentally, is one of zero personal responsibility for cops. No matter what a cop does, it’s all the fault of the criminal whose evil deed set the cops in motion, in the first place. This sounds all cool and noble, coming from Al Pacino, but in real life, it leads to a regime where small armies of cops carry out home invasions and kill innocent people. Yes, innocent, even the ones who actually do have some pot on the premises. They don’t deserve to die either.

In the midst of his insomniac weirdness, Dormer tells a total stranger the deepest secret from his past and asks for her take on it. She says, “It’s about what you thought was right at the time, and what you’re willing to live with.” Words to live by.

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