This greatly underrated film from director Sidney Lumet does what the legendary filmmaker does best: a gritty New York story full of moral compromise, political backbiting, and looming violence. If at times the film sprawls and feels more like the feature-length pilot for a Law & Order-style TV drama, at least it must be conceded that it would be a show worth watching. The lead character of a crusading lawyer who is shocked at a web of corruption he uncovers comes across as a bit too naïve and lacking in street smarts for someone in his position. But the sometimes overly subtle, reductive quality of actor Andy Garcia serves the role well, making his lack of perspicacity more a badge of honor than a mark of shame. Ron Leibman delivers a stellar, powerful performance as an outrageously flamboyant D.A. with raging ambition and political savvy bordering on sleaze, joining a remarkable supporting cast that also includes James Gandoflini, Lena Olin, Ian Holm, Colm Feore, and Richard Dreyfuss. If it's certainly not on par with his greatest, classic works, neither is Night Falls on Manhattan (1997) one of Lumet's out-and-out train wrecks; for a serious artist such as he, even a middling affair like this one is worth a close look.
by Karl Williams review