Denzel Washington (The Taking of Pelham 123)
Ethan Hawke (The Purge)
Scott Glenn (Daredevil)
Tom Berenger (Platoon)
Harris Yulin (Ghostbusters 2)
Raymond J. Bary (Alias)
Cliff Curtis (Jubilee)
Snoop Dogg (Scary Movie V)
Eva Mendes (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Raymond Cruz (My Name Is Earl)
Fran Kranz (Dollhouse)
Terry Crews (Get Smart)
The film follows a day in the life of Los Angeles Police Department officer Jake Hoyt, who is scheduled to be evaluated by Detective Alonzo Harris, a highly decorated LAPD narcotics officer, for a possible promotion. Riding around in Alonzo’s car, they begin the day by catching some college kids buying cannabis from a street gang. Alonzo confiscates the drugs and tells Jake to smoke it – Jake refuses at first, only to comply when Alonzo threatens him at gunpoint, with the explanation that refusing an offer on the street could get him killed. After smoking it, Alonzo informs him that the weed was laced with PCP. They then pay a brief visit to Roger, an old friend of Alonzo’s who is also a drug dealer and former police officer. Back in the car, Jake notices a teenage girl being sexually assaulted and runs out to subdue the attackers while Alonzo watches. Alonzo tells the girl to leave and allows the men to go free, despite Jake’s disapproval. Jake finds the girl’s wallet on the ground and takes it.
Alonzo and Jake later apprehend a wheelchair-bound dealer named Blue, finding crack rocks and a loaded handgun on him. In exchange for his freedom, Blue reveals his associate: Kevin “Sandman” Miller, who is in prison. Alonzo takes Jake to Sandman’s home in Watts, where he uses a fake search warrant to steal $40,000 from the premises. However, Sandman’s wife realizes the scam and calls out to nearby gang members, who open fire. The two officers barely escape.
For lunch, the duo visit Alonzo’s Salvadoran mistress, Sara, and their young son at Baldwin Village. Afterwards, Alonzo meets with a trio of high-ranking police officials dubbed as the “Three Wise Men” – they tell Alonzo that they know the Russian Mafia is hunting him for an incident over the weekend in Las Vegas and suggest that he leave town, but he insists that he has control of the situation and gets permission to “cash in an account”. Alonzo thus gives them Sandman’s drug money for an arrest warrant.
Alonzo takes Jake and four other narcotics officers back to Roger’s house – using the warrant, they seize $4 million from underneath the floor of his kitchen, but Jake refuses to take his share of the cash. Alonzo then kills Roger and arranges for the scene to appear like a justified shooting. Jake refuses to cooperate and after being threatened, seizes Alonzo’s shotgun, prompting a Mexican standoff. However, Alonzo calms his associates and claims that the LAPD will run a blood test on Jake (identifying the PCP he smoked), the result of which he can falsify in exchange for Jake’s cooperation. Jake reluctantly gives in.
Alonzo drives Jake to the home of a Sureño named Smiley, allegedly to run an errand. He furtively abandons Jake as Jake reluctantly plays poker with Smiley and his fellow gang members. A tense conversation ensues in which Smiley reveals Alonzo’s situation: by midnight, Alonzo must pay $1 million to the Russian Mafia for killing one of their men in Las Vegas, or be killed himself. Jake realizes too late that Alonzo had paid Smiley to kill him, and is beaten and dragged to the bathtub for execution. The gang search Jake to find the wallet dropped by the teenage girl, who is revealed to be Smiley’s cousin. Smiley calls her, who confirms that Jake risked his life to defend her. In gratitude, Smiley lets Jake go.
Jake returns to Sara’s apartment and attempts to arrest Alonzo, but a gunfight and chase ensues, which ends with Jake subduing Alonzo in his escape vehicle. The local gang members and residents begin congregating to watch. Alonzo tries to get the crowd on his side by offering a reward to whoever kills Jake; but instead, they allow Jake to walk away with the money. Alonzo attempts to flee via Los Angeles International Airport, but is found and killed by Russian Mafia hitmen in a street shooting. Jake returns home with Alonzo’s money (having said earlier that the money will serve as his evidence corroborating Alonzo’s crimes of the day), and Alonzo’s death is broadcast over the news, touting him as a heroic officer serving a high risk warrant.The end result is nothing less than a brilliant thriller. Hawke and Washington make for a phenomenal double act and the pace only occasionally lets up to allow the characters time to breathe and establish the depth that makes you care for them more. Highly recommended.