Night Falls on Manhattan is a riveting drama about the difficult decisions we all must make on a daily basis in a complicated world where the old absolutes no longer apply. Everything is shaded gray.
Andy Garcia plays Sean Casey, an idealistic street cop turned lawyer who is given the chance of a lifetime when New York District Attorney Morgenstern (Ron Leibman in a fiery performance) lets him handle the high profile prosecution of Jordan Washington (Shiek Mahmud-Bey), a cop-killing drug dealer. Since his father (Ian Holm), a veteran in the NYPD, was wounded while trying to apprehend the culprit, there is much to celebrate when Casey wins conviction.
After Morgenstern is felled by a heart attack, Casey is elected to the office. Everything seems to be going his way. He even falls in love with a beautiful and accomplished associate (Lena Olin) of Sam Vigoda (Richard Dreyfuss), the lawyer who defended Washington. However, things take a bad turn when internal affairs begins investigating police corruption and Casey realizes that his father and his partner (James Gandolfini) may have compromised the case against the drug dealer.
Although this dramatic exploration of ethics and wrongdoing is not as potent as writer-director Sidney Lumet's previous examinations of dirty cops in Serpico, Prince of the City, and Q&A, this film does show how important conscience and moral imagination become in contemporary society.
Here is one American film director who consistently makes the point that our values don't just determine what we do but who we are. Don't miss Night Falls on Manhattan.