Night Falls on Manhattan

6.61 h 53 min1997X-RayR
A newly elected District attorney finds himself in the middle of a police corruption investigation that may involve his father and his partner.
Sidney Lumet
Andy GarciaLena OlinRichard Dreyfuss
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Ian HolmRon Leibman
Thom MountJohn StarkeJosh Kramer
Paramount Pictures
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Violencesubstance usealcohol usefoul languagesexual content
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4.4 out of 5 stars

849 global ratings

  1. 65% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 13% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

joel wingReviewed in the United States on May 13, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
Cops and criminal justice system are dysfunctional
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I love the start of this film. Paul Guilfoyle gives a speech to new lawyers working for the New York district attorney. He says all of them are just there as a steppingstone to a high paying job so none of them care about justice. He said they will be facing judges that don’t care and cops and lawyers who just want to see how many hours they can wrack up to earn cash from cases not to mention the criminals they will be trying. It explains a justice system that just wants to keep the machine running and nothing else. That’s the major theme of the movie how the system is dysfunctional. It turns out to be about the district attorney’s office that only cares about power and politics and corrupt cops. Andy Garcia is the star. He’s a bit too self-righteous in some scenes. His dad played by Ian Holm and his partner James Gandolfini are more interesting. The bad guy at the start is Sheik Mahmud-Bey who has one of the worst hairdos I’ve ever seen. Ron Liebman as the scheming district attorney also has some good parts.
4 people found this helpful
RICHReviewed in the United States on November 18, 2019
3.0 out of 5 stars
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And I mean "we," as in movie audience.

Because if you buy into the early premise of this movie, you're...guilty!

(The early premise: the DA gives a big murder trial to a young, inexperienced lawyer because...his father narrowly escaped being one of the killer's fatal victims and lies in critical condition in hospital. Would this ever happen? If it did would it be tolerated by the media/public? It appears to be accepted unquestionably. The only one who seems upset by the D.A.'s appointment? The D.A.'s right-hand man who figures HE should try the case, but isn't given the nod because he's earmarked as the D.A.'s replacement...)

And it goes on from there. So, it's a bit over the top. However...

Makes some fine points in a fine script--written by Director Sidney Lumet--and all performances by a stellar cast are simply superb under his direction. Nobody's clean.
Do they "get away with it"? Sure. Because everybody owes somebody and...well, compromises and deals are made.
Kinda like life.

If being reminded of that offends you, skip this. If you can take it and live with this. But remember: you're guilty, too...
6 people found this helpful
RedReviewed in the United States on September 17, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
... is one of those very rare films where the good guy is faced with difficult moral challenges - the ...
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This is one of those very rare films where the good guy is faced with difficult moral challenges - the kind that real people in the real world all face. Not only is he unsure who around him is clean or dirty, he's conflicted, as are we, about what the honorable course of action is.

Hollywood typically offers us only two choices in crime dramas. Scenario no.1 offers us a heroic good guy who, despite dealing with lazy, corrupt peers, overcomes all obsticles to defeat evil. (Dirty Harry). We can relax and enjoy the action precisely because the unwritten rule of this genre is that the hero will never face any moral quandries.

Scenario 2 ensures that our moral sensibilities won't be challenged by simply abandonning any notion of right and wrong. It invites us to cheer for the protagonist, without "judging" him or her. (Good Fellas, Bonnie & Clyde).

Night Falls on Manhattan tosses the rule book. The hero (Andy Garcia) is a good guy, trying to do the right thing - but under circumstances where there are no good options. The audience, like Garcia's character, is deeply conflicted over what he should do, what the outcome will be, and what outcome we want.

If there's a flaw, it's that the movie never quite gets off the ground emotionally. We are not deeply invested in the characters; the courtroom scenes never develop a sense of tension; even the shootouts lack drama.

That said, the combination of first-rate acting, engaging dialogue, and a refreshingly willingness to break the Hollywood rules earn this a 4.5.
10 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on December 9, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
cerebral - makes you think what you would do
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you kind of know after a little while that the protagonist is going to face some very difficult personal decisions, and will likely involve his dad. well written script as we watch each character wrestle with the choices they have to make, and how they reconcile some of their past actions with their own morals. how to place their personal beliefs in the context of their professional obligations, and promises they have made. the acting is first rate as is the script.
Yiannis PReviewed in the United States on October 5, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Integrity Among Humans is Rare But It's Not Extinct
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A very intelligent, gripping story about corruption in the police force. All the major players gave memorable performances, from Andy Garcia as Sean Casey upon whose shoulders the case fell, Ian Holm as his policeman father, to James Gandolfini as his father's partner. Other exceptional performances: Sheik Mahmud-Bey as the drug dealer responsible for multiple deaths of policemen, and Richard Dreyfus as the dealer's defense attorney. It is rare for a movie of this sort to have such a sparklingly clever script. And for casting to make so many right choices. Definitely a 5-star film.
9 people found this helpful
JosephReviewed in the United States on August 27, 2018
1.0 out of 5 stars
The Video Doesn't Play!!!
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I love the movie but the video is a piece of junk. I didn't watch it until today - or i should say try to watch it because the video hardly loaded and simply wouldn't play. Of course, now that the return window is closed I'm completely out of luck but this episode and others make me wary of ever ordering Amazon again. I can only hope this screed gets through since Amazon - which owns the Washington Post, if it can be believed, a supposed organ of free speech - has censored my reviews on previous occasions. The video? What was there to do other than throw it away?
4 people found this helpful
JWReviewed in the United States on June 25, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Very good movie about duty and morality
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Excellent acting in a standard police story where rule of the law is challenged by corruption on many levels of the system. One of my very favorite actors, Andy Garcia, is great as always as a newly-elected DA who is pulled between his own innate integrity and loyalty to family.
One person found this helpful
David ThomsonReviewed in the United States on January 7, 2007
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Letter vs. the Spirit of the Law
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This is an overall enjoyable film worthy of 4 1/4 stars, but not 5. Never for a moment do I believe that an inexperienced prosecutor (Andy Garcia) can be elected to become the District Attorney of the entire New York City area! I might have a better chance of humiliating Shaq O'Neal on the basketball court. Nonetheless, this story more than adequately confronts the age old questions: where is the line to be drawn between adherence to the letter vs. the spirit of the law? How much slack can officials representing the state cut those who do not perfectly obey the law? Should we allow a relatively minor infraction to destroy a long and honorable career? Should someone be handed the responsibility to prosecute a suspect accused of shooting their own father? How much justice does an obviously guilty individual deserve? Utopia is admittedly not possible on this side of the vale of tears. What is the minimum, however, that is nonnegotiable? This film has some weaknesses. And yet, it will make you think.

David Thomson
Flares into Darkness
One person found this helpful
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